To study the biological basis of selenium in resisting senescence through its effects on cellular telomerase activity and telomere length. In the experiments, the cell line of hepatocytes L-02 was divided into three groups supplemented with sodium selenite at final concentrations of 0, 0.5 and 2.5 micromol/L, respectively. Cellular telomerase activity was measured by telomeric repeat amplification protocol and enzymatic luminometric inorganic pyrophosphate detection assay. RT-PCR was used to semi-quantitatively detect human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene expression. The change of telomere length was assayed through flow cytometry and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Results showed that L-02 cells had low telomerase activity and hTERT gene expression level when cultured in the normal way. The cells grew well after 3-week-cultivation in the media supplemented with 0.5 or 2.5 micromol/L sodium selenite. Besides, sodium selenite significantly increased cellular telomerase activity and hTERT gene expression level. The telomere length of L-02 cells was also extended after 4-week-cultivation with sodium selenite. Thus, sodium selenite at nutritional doses could prolong the life span of hepatocytes L-02 through increasing telomerase activity and telomere length. This result provides a possible mechanism for explaining the anti-senescence function of selenium.