The ability of bone marrow stromal cells to survive and function after exposure to ionizing radiation remains controversial. Therefore, we used the murine long-term bone marrow culture system to analyze the effects of single doses of ionizing radiation (9-500 Gy) on the function of a preexisting, nearly confluent stroma that was supportive of hematopoiesis. Hematopoiesis ceased promptly in all the irradiated cultures and did not recover unless fresh marrow cells were inoculated. Radiation doses ≤100 Gy caused no obvious morphologic change in the cells. Total RNA, total protein, and collagen synthesis declined by 35%-60% within two days after even 9 Gy; but radiation doses up to 100 Gy caused minimal or no additional decline. Although RNA synthesis recovered nearly to normal within three weeks after radiation doses < 100 Gy, total protein and collagen synthesis remained suppressed. Normal adherent layers irradiated with 9-50 Gy supported long-term hematopoiesis by fresh Sl/Sl(d) marrow cells, although Sl/Sl(d) marrow did not demonstrate sustained hematopoiesis when cultured in plain culture dishes or over normal stroma irradiated with 200 Gy. Thus, bone marrow stromal cells in long-term cultures did not show evidence of substantial cell death over at least the six-week period studied after irradiation with as much as 100 Gy, and they maintained hematopoietic supportive functions when irradiated with up to at least 50 Gy.