In many mammalian tissues, mature differentiated cells are replaced by self-renewing stem cells, either continuously during homeostasis or in response to challenge and injury. For example, hematopoietic stem cells generate all mature blood cells, including monocytes, which have long been thought to be the major source of tissue macrophages. Recently, however, major macrophage populations were found to be derived from embryonic progenitors and to renew independently of hematopoietic stem cells. This process may not require progenitors, as mature macrophages can proliferate in response to specific stimuli indefinitely and without transformation or loss of functional differentiation. These findings suggest that macrophages are mature differentiated cells that may have a self-renewal potential similar to that of stem cells.