In the mammalian liver the distribution of ammonia-detoxifying enzymes, glutamine synthetase (GS) and carbamoylphosphate synthase I (ammonia) (CPS-I), is mutually exclusive in that these enzymes are expressed in two distinct populations of hepatocytes that are zonally demarcated in the liver acinus. In the present study we examined the distribution of GS and CPS-I in pancreatic hepatocytes to ascertain if the expression of these two genes in these hepatocytes is also mutually exclusive. Multiple foci of hepatocytes showing no clear acinar organization develop in the adult rat pancreas as a result of a change in the differentiation commitment after dietary copper deficiency. Unlike liver, GS and CPS-I are detected by immunofluorescence in all pancreatic hepatocytes. In situ hybridization revealed that all pancreatic hepatocytes contain GS and CPS-I mRNAs. The sizes of these two mRNAs in pancreas with hepatocytes are similar to those of the liver. The concomitant expression of GS and CPS-I genes in pancreatic hepatocytes may be attributed, in part, to the absence of portal blood supply to the pancreas vis-à-vis the lack of hormonal/metabolic gradients as well as to possible matrix homogeneity in the pancreas.