Analysis of conditioned medium from three sublines of the B16 melanoma [F1 (parental), BL6 (invasive), F10 (metastatic)] by SDS-PAGE and zymography revealed the presence of plasminogen activator activity at 60,000 daltons. The relative activity was F10 greater than F1 greater than or equal to BL6. Treatment of the cells with the tumor promoter, phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) led to increased secretion of PA by F10 cells and a lesser increase in secretion by F1 cells and BL6 cells. In addition, a second plasminogen activator activity at 45,000 daltons was detected in conditioned medium from PMA treated F10 cells. Conditioned medium from F10 and F1 cells was also shown to contain a 33,000 dalton plasminogen activator binding protein. Upon PMA treatment the concentration of the binding protein increased in medium from F10 cells but not in similarly treated F1 cells. The binding protein, very likely a plasminogen activator inhibitor, was nearly undetectable in conditioned medium from control and PMA-treated BL6 cells. Therefore, the three sublines, which differ in in vivo phenotypic characteristics, also differ in their in vitro regulation of proteinase and proteinase inhibitor synthesis.