We report the successful long-term engraftment of normal male donor bone marrow (BM) transfused into noncytoablated female mice, challenging the assumption that “niches” need to be created for marrow to engraft. We have used chromosomal banding and Southern blot analysis to identify transplanted male marrow cells, and shown the long-term stability of the chimeric marrows. Balb/C, BDF1, or CBA-J female hosts (no irradiation) received for 5 consecutive days 40 x 10(6) male cells (per day) of the same strain, and repopulation patterns were observed. Parallel studies were performed using tibia/femur equivalents of normal marrow or marrow from Balb/C mice pretreated 6 days previously with 150 mg/kg 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). Chromosome banding techniques showed that 5% to 46% of marrow cells were male 3 to 9 months posttransplant with normal donor marrow. Southern blot analysis, using the pY2 probe, showed continued engraftment at 21 to 25 months posttransplant, ranging from 15% to 42% male engrafted cells in marrow. Normal donor male marrow engrafted significantly better than 5-FU-pretreated male marrow as shown 1 to 12 months posttransplant in non-cytoablated female recipients. Percentages of male engrafted cells in BM ranged from 23% to 78% for recipients of normal donor marrow and from 0.1% to 39% for recipients of 5-FU marrow. Mean engraftment for 6 mice receiving normal marrow was 38%, whereas that for 6 mice receiving post-5-FU marrow was 8%, as assayed 1 to 3 months posttransplant. At 10 to 12 months, mean engraftment for the normal donor group was 46%, compared with 16% for the 5-FU group. The patterns of engraftment with normal and 5-FU marrow were similar for spleen and thymus. These results show that long-term chimerism can be established after transplantation of normal donor marrow to normal nonirradiated host mice and indicate that marrow spaces do not have to be created for successful engraftment. They suggest that transplanted marrow competes equally with host marrow for marrow space. Finally, these data show that post-5-FU Balb/C male marrow is markedly inferior in the repopulation of Balb/C female host marrow, spleen, and thymus, and suggest that this population of cells may not be the ideal population for gene transfer studies.