Although macrophages account for 70-90% of the adherent cells in mouse long-term bone marrow cultures (LTBMC) and CFU-F colonies, the predominant nonhematopoietic stromal cell is endothelial-like (EL), expressing cytoplasmic collagen IV, laminin, and an antigen recognized by the monoclonal antibody MECA-10. We report the isolation of this stromal cell lineage from primary LTBMC by immunomagnetic cell selection using MECA-10. More than 95% of the cells in the MECA-10-positive fraction are EL cells as judged by morphology, surface staining for MECA-10, cytoplasmic staining for collagen IV, and electrophoretic analysis of MECA-10-positive cells isolated from radiation chimeras. When plated under LTBMC conditions, EL cell monolayers recharged with either wild-type or Sl/Sld marrow support an increased density and number of clonogenic and mature hematopoietic cells in short-term cultures. In accord with this finding, Northern blots of mRNA from unstimulated EL cells demonstrate constitutive expression of Kit ligand (KL). Moreover, in situ two-color immunofluorescence staining for cytoplasmic collagen IV and surface KL suggests that EL cells are the exclusive source of membrane-bound KL in mouse cultures. The ability to isolate EL cells from primary cultures without the need for repeated cell passage or immortalization provides a novel approach to dissecting the molecular basis of stem cell-stromal cell interactions.