Abstract The time-dependent variations over 24 h of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) activity, succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) activity and single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) content have been investigated by cytophotometric analysis of cytochemically stained isolated hepatocytes of different ploidy classes from adult male rats. A marked variation of 48 % over the day in G6PDH activity of the mononuclear diploid cells was revealed, but no significant variation in the binuclear tetraploid cells. The cells of the inbetween ploidy classes showed an amplitude of variation of 38 % (binuclear diploid cells) and 24% (mononuclear tetraploid cells), respectively. All cells showed a maximum activity of the enzyme at the middle of the day and a minimum during the night. The relative enzyme activity per mononuclear diploid cell was significantly higher than the relative activity in the other cells, especially at its maximum. The variation of the SDH activity in hepatocytes isolated from the same rats was similar in all cells, irrespective of their ploidy class. The activity was highest at the end of the activity phase of the animals. The SDH activity per cell was directly proportional to the quantity of genome copies. The ssRNA content of the hepatocytes showed a time-dependent variation with a maximum during the resting phase of the animals and a minimum during their activity phase. The variation was larger in the mononuclear diploid cells than in the cells of other ploidy classes and the ssRNA content was also significantly higher in these cells than in the hepatocytes of other ploidy classes when calculated on the basis of genome copies. It is concluded that the large amplitude of variation over the day and the high relative amount of G6PDH activity and ssRNA content in mononuclear diploid cells is related to the function of these cells as stem cells of the liver parenchyma.