The importance of hepatocyte-derived apolipoprotein (apo) E in the clearance of remnant lipoproteins in the liver is controversial. To address this controversy, we compared remnant clearance in two mouse models in which apoE is primarily derived either from hepatocytes or from an extrahepatic source. Hypomorphic apoE mice universally express reduced levels of apoE in all tissues, with the liver remaining the primary source of apoE. This mouse model of hepatocyte-derived apoE was compared with Apoe(-/-) mice transplanted with mouse bone marrow as a model of primarily non-hepatocyte-derived apoE. Immunohistochemical analysis of liver sections revealed that only the hepatocyte-derived apoE model had detectable levels of apoE on hepatic sinusoidal surfaces. The non-hepatocyte-derived apoE model with plasma apoE levels similar to those in the hepatocyte-derived model had 2-fold more total plasma cholesterol, 4-fold more total plasma triglycerides, and 8-fold higher levels of apoB48, similar to Apoe(-/-) mice. Both the hepatocyte-derived and the non-hepatocyte-derived apoE models had delayed clearance of an infused bolus of (125)I-labeled remnants compared with wild-type mice. However, after 3 h, plasma remnants reached wild-type levels only in the hepatocyte-derived apoE model, which had accumulated 70 +/- 5% of wild-type levels of remnants in the liver while the non-hepatocyte-derived apoE model had accumulated only 38 +/- 4%. These results demonstrate the existence of a role for both hepatically derived and localized apoE in remnant clearance. This role likely represents the enrichment of remnants sequestered on hepatocyte, with hepatocyte-derived apoE, facilitating their receptor-mediated internalization.