The purpose of this study was to examine the growth and key functional abilities of primary cultures of salivary epithelial cells toward developing an artificial salivary gland. Cultures of epithelial cells originating from submandibular glands of BALB/c mice were established. Parenchymal cells were isolated by a Percoll gradient technique and thereafter seeded on irradiated NIH 3T3 fibroblasts serving as a feeder layer. The isolated cells were termed autologous salivary gland epithelial (ASGE) cells and could be cultivated for at least five passages (time limit of experiments). ASGE cells presented the typical organizational behavior of epithelial cells and electron microscopy, as well as immunostaining for cytokeratins, confirmed their epithelial origin. Furthermore, measurements of transepithelial resistance and water permeability indicated the ability of the ASGE cells to form a functional epithelial barrier. This study suggests that primary salivary epithelial cells can be obtained that exhibit critical characteristics needed for use with an artificial secretory device.