A novel, untransformed koala cell line (KC-1) was established by culturing koala conjunctival tissue in growth medium, which has permitted the study of the cell biology of this unique system. After the establishment of the KC-1 cell line, the cells were characterized by light microscopy, doubling time, and Western blot analysis. Light microscopy revealed that the cells have an epithelial morphology. Doubling times were significantly different (P < 0.015) depending on fetal calf serum (FCS) concentration (16.5 h in 10% FCS and 26.5 h in 2% FCS). Cells constricted while in suspension but were shown to attach to the coverslip (or flask) and flatten rapidly, less than 1 h after seeding. To confirm the epithelial nature of the cells, protein was extracted and Western blot analysis was performed. Subsequent probing with primary and secondary antibodies (monoclonal anticytokeratin clone C-11 IgG1 and anti-mouse IgG) revealed two bands at 45 and 52 kDa (compared against a protein molecular weight marker) that correspond to primary type I keratin and major type II keratin, respectively, expressed in simple epithelial cells. The koala cell line was adapted to grow continuously in Dulbecco modified Eagle medium containing 10% FCS for at least 30 passages. This unique cell line is an ideal tool for further investigation on koala cell biology and cytogenetics and for exploration of the pathophysiological mechanism of eye infections caused by different pathogens in koalas.