The cycling properties of mammary stem and progenitor cells is not well understood. To determine the division properties of these cells, we administered synthetic nucleosides for varying periods of time to mice at different stages of postnatal development and monitored the rate of uptake of these nucleosides in the different mammary cell compartments. Here we show that most cell division in the adult virgin gland is restricted to the oestrogen receptor-expressing luminal cell lineage. Our data also demonstrate that the oestrogen receptor-expressing, milk and basal cell subpopulations have telomere lengths and cell division kinetics that are not compatible with these cells being hierarchically organized; instead, our data indicate that in the adult homeostatic gland, each cell type is largely maintained by its own restricted progenitors. We also observe that transplantable stem cells are largely quiescent during oestrus, but are cycling during dioestrus when progesterone levels are high.