X-chromosome inactivation was investigated in human chorionic villi in the first trimester of pregnancy and cultured cells established from them. Expression of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) was evaluated in these extraembryonic cells from four females heterozygous for the electrophoretic variants (AB) of G6PD. In each case the uncultured villi as well as derived cultured cells expressed the AB phenotype for G6PD with about equal intensity for the A and B bands. Single-cell-derived clones established from two of the four cases expressed either G6PD A or B. One clone expressing G6PD B was fused with mouse cells, and a hybrid clone retaining the inactive human X chromosome was isolated; there was no evidence of human G6PD expression in this clone retaining an inactive human X. DNA methylation in the first intron of the human gene for hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) was evaluated in the four pairs of cultured villi and fetal cells. No differences were detected between the cultured villi and fetal cells as they all showed bands characteristic of an inactive X from somatic cells. These results show that there is no preferential inactivation of an X in the majority of cells that constitute human tertiary chorionic villi or in cultured cells derived from them. Long-term cultures established from chorionic villi appear to be no different from somatic cells with respect to X-chromosome inactivation.