We previously reported that decidual stromal cells (DSC) from early human decidua express antigens associated with hematopoietic cells and develop different immune functions. Here we study the antigenic phenotype of DSC from term decidua and compare it with the phenotype reported for DSC from early decidua. Decidual stromal cells were isolated from human term deciduas and maintained in culture until highly purified DSC cultures were obtained. Most term DSC, like most early DSC, expressed CD10. Term DSC expressed antigens specific for follicular dendritic cells (FDC), such as DRC-1 (CD21L) and HJ2, together with CD21, CD23 and CD80, which are detected on FDC as well. Also like early DSC, term DSC were negative for CD3, CD14, CD15 and CD45. Although early DSC were reported to be HLA-DR-positive and CD86-positive, these antigens were not expressed by term DSC. These discrepant results suggest that two types of cells, or cells at different stages of differentiation (decidualization) were selected during culture of decidual cells from different periods of gestation. This possibility was further supported by the finding that term DSC expressed desmin and prolactin, two markers of decidualization, whereas these molecules have not previously been detected in early DSC.