Abstract Hepatocyte iron release was studied in vivo in rats. After the injection of iron 59-labeled ferritin, hemoglobin, or human asialotransferrin, the proportions of the radioactive iron returned to the plasma and incorporated into stores were determined under various conditions. Iron 55-labeled rat transferrin was injected at the same time as the 59Fe-labeled compound, and storage iron release was calculated from the cumulative incorporation of the two isotopes in the red cell mass over 2 weeks. The various 59Fe-labeled compounds were processed differently by the hepatocyte, but the radioactive iron was incorporated in the same iron stores. About 6% of the hepatocyte storage iron was released daily in normal rats, but a pool of iron that is not mobilized spontaneously was clearly identified in iron overload. Iron turnover in the hepatocyte was regulated by the rate of erythropolesls and fron status of the animal, and inflammation blocked hepatocyte iron release. A strong correlation between hepatocyte iron release and plasma transferrin receptor levels was observed ( p< 0.001), suggesting that plasma transferrin receptors could mediate the regulation of hepatocyte iron mobilization in rats.