The periodontal ligament (PDL) is a connective tissue located between the cementum of teeth and the alveolar bone of the mandibula. It plays an integral role in the maintenance and regeneration of periodontal tissue. The cells responsible for maintaining this tissue are thought to be fibroblasts, which can be either multipotent or composed of heterogenous cell populations. However, as no established cell lines from the PDL are available, it is difficult to assess what type of cell promotes all of these functions. As a first step to circumvent this problem, we have cloned and characterized cell lines from the PDL from mice harboring a temperature-sensitive SV 40 large T-antigen gene. RT-PCR and in situ hybridization studies demonstrated that a cell line, designated PDL-L2, mimics the gene expression of the PDL in vivo: it expresses genes such as alkaline phosphatase, type I collagen, periostin, runt-related transcription factor-2 (Runx2) and EGF receptor, but does not express genes such as bone sialoprotein and osteocalcin. Unlike osteoblastic cells and a mixed cell population from the PDL, PDL-L2 cells do not produce mineralized nodules in the mineralization medium. When PDL-L2 cells were incubated in the presence of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 alkaline phosphatase activity increased and mineralized nodules were eventually produced, although the extent of mineralization is much less than that in osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells. Furthermore, PDL-L2 cells appeared to have a regulatory mechanism by which the function of Runx2 is normally suppressed.