C cell proliferation of the thyroid, which was designated as primary C cell hyperplasia (PCCH), was demonstrated in aged Fischer 344 rats in high incidence using the immunohistochemical method for calcitonin. It developed from mild to severe PCCH and resulted in nodular PCCH and tumor formation. The combined incidence of PCCH and nodular PCCH was increased with age and appeared in 60.7% of 7–15 month old group and 92.7% of 16–24 month old group possibly as a preneoplastic C cell lesion. It is almost an equivalent C cell lesion reported in the human thyroid with familial C cell carcinoma and therefore this Fischer 344 rat can provide a useful animal model to study familial C cell tumor of the thyroid.