Bone marrow stroma-based cultures provide a powerful model for studying cell division and apoptosis of primary human precursor B cells. Studies using this model are elucidating the mechanisms by which stromal cells inhibit apoptosis of cultured normal precursor B cells and have demonstrated that the apoptotic rate of cultured leukemic precursor B cells can predict clinical outcome in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In contrast to apoptosis, cell division in this model has not been well characterized. In this study, we quantified the rates of cell division in cultured primary human normal and leukemic precursor B cells by labeling precursor B cells with the fluorescent dye carboxyfluorescein diacetate, succinimyl ester. Based on the rate of decreasing fluorescent signal over 3 weeks, normal CD19+, CD10+ precursor B cells divided once every 90.5 hours, a number that correlates well with the known in vivo rate of 65.5 hours. The division rates were similar among different cultures and constant throughout the 3 weeks of culture, suggesting that the variable expansions of precursor B cells seen among different samples and culture durations are not secondary to different cell division rates. Unlike normal cells, cultured leukemic B cells had a heterogeneous division rate that ranged from once every 26-240 hours. These rates correlated well with their respective in vivo proliferation index. These findings indicate that the stroma-based cultures faithfully replicate in vivo cell division rates and can be used to elucidate the pathways that regulate cell division of primary human precursor B cells.