The number of hematopoietic stem cells necessary to support normal hematopoiesis is not known but may be small. If so, the depletion or damage of such cells could result in apparent clonal dominance. To test this hypothesis, dimethylbusulfan [2 to 4 mg/kg intravenously (IV) x 3] was given to cats heterozygous for the X-linked enzyme glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD). These cats were the daughters of domestic X Geoffroy parents. After the initial drug-induced cytopenias (2 to 4 weeks), peripheral blood counts and the numbers of marrow progenitors detected in culture remained normal, although the percentages of erythroid burst-forming cells (BFU-E) and granulocyte/macrophage colony-forming cells (CFU-GM) in DNA synthesis increased, as determined by the tritiated thymidine suicide technique. In three of six cats treated, a dominance of Geoffroy-type G-6-PD emerged among the progenitor cells, granulocytes, and RBCs. These skewed ratios of domestic to Geoffroy-type G-6-PD have persisted greater than 3 years. No changes in cell cycle kinetics or G-6-PD phenotypes were noted in similar studies in six control cats. These data suggest that clonal evolution may reflect the depletion or damage of normal stem cells and not only the preferential growth and dominance of neoplastic cells.