Smooth muscle cells with 4C (double diploid) DNA content have been found in major arteries. The proportion of 4C cells increases with normal aging and with hypertension. These cells may represent a state of arrest at the G2 phase of the cell cycle or may be examples of true tetraploidy. Flow cytometric cell sorting was used to isolate 4C smooth muscle cells from the rat aorta, and the cells were cultured. Flow cytometry, Feulgen microdensitometry, and karyotyping of the progeny of the 4C cells established the presence of true tetraploid cells. These findings demonstrate the presence of reproductively viable tetraploid cells in a normal mammalian tissue.