The early development of the mammalian forebrain involves the massive proliferation of the ventricular zone cells lining the lateral ventricles. A remnant of this highly proliferative region persists into adult life, where it is known as the subependymal layer. We examined the proliferation kinetics and fates of the mitotically active cells in the subependyma of the adult mouse. The medial edge, the lateral edge, and the dorsolateral corner of the subependymal layer of the rostral portion of the lateral ventricle each contained mitotically active cells, but the dorsolateral region had the highest percentage of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)-labeled cells per unit area. Repeated injections of BrdU over 14 hr revealed a proliferation curve for the dorsolateral population with a growth fraction of 33%, indicating that 33% of the cells in this subependymal region make up the proliferating population. The total cell cycle time in this population was approximately 12.7 hr, with an S-phase of 4.2 hr. To examine the fate of these proliferating cells, we injected low concentrations of a replication-deficient, recombinant retrovirus directly into the lateral ventricles of adult mice for uptake by mitotically active subependymal cells. Regardless of the survival time postinjection (10 hr, 1 d, 2 d, or 8 d), the number of retrovirally labeled cells per clone remained the same (1 or 2 cells/clone). This suggests that one of the progeny from each cell division dies. Moreover, the clones remained confined to the subependyma and labeled cells were not seen in the surrounding brain tissue. Thus, while 33% of the dorsolateral subependymal cells continue to proliferate in adult life, the fate of the postmitotic progeny is death.