Primary cultures of human fetal oesophageal cells were set up and maintained for 45 days. Epithelial cells were the dominant cell type in the culture for the first four weeks. Thereafter, both epithelial cells and fibroblasts were seen with the fibroblasts becoming the dominant cell type by the 6th week and until the cultures degenerated. The tritiated thymidine uptake showed an upward trend from day 10 up to day 30, with peak uptake at day 30 in the untreated, B(a)P treated and OAc treated cultures and decreased thereafter. The thymidine uptake levels were significantly higher in the B(a)P treated cultures when compared with levels in the untreated cultures. A concurrent increase/decrease was also seen in the cell number in all the three groups of cultures. Cultures with B(a)P and DMN-OAc showed significantly higher AHH levels as compared with untreated cultures. These results indicate that the human fetal oesophageal cells could be viably maintained under in vitro conditions for long periods of time and also showed capacity to metabolise the carcinogens through aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase activity.