The planarian owes its extensive powers of regeneration to the possession of a totipotential stem cell system. The survival of the animal after irradiation depends mainly upon this system. In this respect the planarian is analogous to mammalian organ systems such as bone marrow or gut epithelium. The differentiated cells control the course of stem cell mediated tissue renewal by the secretion of differentiator and/or inhibitor substances. One such inhibitor substance, present in extracts prepared from homogenized whole planarians, specifically inhibits brain formation. This substance is organ specific, but not species specific. The differentiative integrity of the stem cells after irradiation is measured by comparing the regenerated brain volumes resulting from the presence or absence of the brain inhibitory extract during the regeneration period. Our data suggest that increasing doses of X irradiation decrease the ability of the stem cells to respond to differentiative substances. The data presented also explore the possibility of altering the postirradiation recovery pattern by shifting the differentiative demands placed on the stem cells. The final proportions of animals (one-half regenerated with, and one-half without, the extract) surviving after 60 days were not significantly different.

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