An increase of a 45 kD protein (p45) in the nuclear matrix has been observed when rat liver cells were proliferatively activated in vivo by a partial hepatectomy. The maximal levels of the association of p45 with the nuclear matrix have been detected 24 hr after hepatectomy just at the time when DNA replication is also maximal. By amino acid sequence analysis, immunoblotting and immunocytochemical methods, it has been demonstrated that p45 is identical to rat cytokeratin D. Immunogold staining of nuclear matrixintermediate filament preparations from cultured hepatocytes indicated that p45 is associated with cytoskeletal filaments that are strongly interconnected to the lamina, whereas no intranuclear localization of the protein has been detected. With an overlay assay a specific binding of labeled p45 to two nonidentified high-molecular weight proteins and also to lamin B has been observed. Northern blot analysis revealed a biphasic pattern of expression of the messenger RNA for cytokeratin D during liver regeneration. A sharp increase in the messenger RNA levels occurred in the prereplicative phase of liver regeneration a few hours before the accumulation of the protein in the nuclear matrix fraction, and a second peak occurred 48 hr after partial hepatectomy.