Abstract The human embryonal lung fibroblasts used in this study showed a pronounced inhibition of growth when reaching a critical cell density. This effect has been mimicked by the addition of glutaraldehyde-fixed human fibroblasts to sparsely seeded growing cells. Inhibition of growth was not observed when glutaraldehyde-fixed cells were pretreated with galactosidase or with galactose-specific lectins, or when glutaraldehyde-fixed human or rabbit erythrocytes were added to the proliferating fibroblasts. In addition, glutaraldehydefixed mitotic cells were without effect on the proliferation, while cells prepared from sparse culture had lesser potency than cells prepared from confluent cultures. Plasma membranes, isolated from cells of confluent cultures, when added to growing cultures of human fibroblasts inhibited DNA synthesis in a concentration-dependent manner. On the other hand, plasma membranes isolated from sparsely seeded cells had only minor inhibitory potency. When the plasma membranes were isolated from cells treated previously with tunicamycin, an antibiotic which inhibits the synthesis of the oligosaccharide portion of asparagine-linked glycoproteins, the inhibitory effect was abolished. The same effect was observed when plasma membranes were pretreated with galactosidase. These data indicate that the growth of cells in vitro is regulated by specific cell-cell contacts. They also show that one of the molecular reactants in this process are membrane glycoproteins with asparagine-linked oligosaccharides.