Résumé : There are no reported, convenient in vitro models for studying polarized functions in salivary epithelial cells. Accordingly, we examined three often-used salivary cell lines for their ability to form a polarized monolayer on permeable, collagen-coated polycarbonate filters. Only the SMIE line, derived from rat submandibular gland, had this ability. The SMIE cell monolayer exhibited junctional complexes, with a tight-junction-associated protein, ZO-1, localized to cell-cell contact areas. The Na+/K+-ATPase alpha1-subunit was detected predominantly in the basolateral membranes, while the Na+/H+ exchanger isoform 2 appeared primarily in the apical membranes. Using adenovirus-mediated cDNA transfer, SMIE cells were shown to be capable of routing marker proteins (beta-galactosidase +/- a nuclear targeting signal, alpha1-antitrypsin, aquaporin-1) to appropriate locations. Furthermore, this salivary cell monolayer provided a convenient tool for studying aquaporin-1-mediated, osmotically directed, transepithelial fluid movement in vitro. Thus, SMIE cells appear to be a useful experimental model with which to study some polarized functions in a salivary epithelial cell line.