Colony-forming cells (CFU), which have the general properties of hemopoietic “stem” cells, appear to be augmented in the mouse fetal liver from 12–18 days gestation and then decrease in the newborn. This finding suggests that few, if any, hemopoietic “stem” cells remain in the adult liver, an organ which appears to be unable to function erythropoietically, even at times of severe crises. In the spleen, and active adult as well as embryonic hematopoietic organ, the total number of CFU increases from 18 days gestation until at least 7 days after birth.

Spleen and liver CFU augmentation seems to occur in cojunction with an analogous expansion of non-hematopoietic cells. The data suggests, in fact, that while there is an increase in the total number of liver CFU, there is also a dilution of liver CFU in the total cell population at successively later gestational ages.