The combination of percutaneous atherectomy and angioscopy enabled a selective "biopsy" of protruding atheromatous plaque material from 11 patients with arterial occlusive disease. The removed specimens were cultivated as adhering explants or single cells were obtained by enzymatic disintegration. The vast majority of the cultivated cells resembled fibroblasts, but could be identified as smooth muscle cells by their smooth muscle alpha-actin content. Proliferation rate was slow with 0.1 doublings per day. Endothelial cells were not observed by immunologic criteria. The described biopsy technique and in vitro evaluation of cultured human atheromatous plaque material may be useful for a better understanding of atherogenesis.