OBJECTIVE To investigate the sustaining effects of gene-transferring hepatic stellate cell strain CFSC/HGF on the development of hepatocytes. METHODS A CFSC/HGF strain, expressing HGF steadily and effectively was established by recombined retroviral vector pMSCV-HGF infection. Morphology and ultra structure of hepatocytes, albumin and urea production, as well as ICG uptake and excretion were studied continuously following the hepatocytes cultured on the CFSC/HGF feeder layers. Parallel group of collagen-dependent hepatocytes culturing and hepatocytes culturing on CFSC were also conducted. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis was made to evaluate the expression of HGF receptor c-Met. RESULTS The hepatocytes cocultured on CFSC/HGF feeder layers had a higher survival rate, and the functions of albumin secretion and urea syntheses and ICG uptake and excretion, were superior to the other two culture methods. The result of RT-PCR indicated that the c-Met expressed on the CFSC/HGF coculturing hepatocytes was up-regulated 2.23 times. CONCLUSION Gene-transferring hepatic stellate cell strain CFSC/HGF exhibited a remarkable sustaining effect on the hepatocytes development. The up-regulation of c-Met expressed on the surfaces of the hepatocytes induced by CFSC/HGF might play some part in this function.