Mice possessing two mutant alleles at the W or Sl locus are anemic and deficient in mast cells. These mouse mutants have black eyes and white hair. Because homozygous mutant rats at the newly found white spotting (Ws) locus were also black-eyed whites, the numbers of erythrocytes and mast cells were examined. Suckling Ws/Ws rats showed a severe macrocytic anemia and were deficient in mast cells. When bone marrow cells of normal (+/+) control or Ws/Ws rats were injected into C3H/He mice that had received cyclophosphamide injection and whole-body irradiation, remarkable erythropoiesis occurred in the spleen of +/+ marrow recipients but not in the spleen of Ws/Ws marrow recipients. When skin pieces of Ws/Ws embryos were grafted under the kidney capsule of nude athymic rats, mast cells did develop in the grafted skin tissues. Therefore, the anemia and mast cell deficiency of Ws/Ws rats were attributed to a defect of precursors of erythrocytes and mast cells. Because the magnitude of the anemia decreased and that of the mast cell deficiency increased in adult Ws/Ws rats, this mutant is potentially useful for investigations about differentiation and function of mast cells.

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