The growth of rat ascites hepatoma cells (AH 66) in vitro was inhibited and the amount of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the culture medium was increased in the presence of dibutyryl adenosine 3'-5' cyclic monophosphate (DBc-AMP). Electronmicroscopically, AH 66 cells that had been incubated with DBc-AMP showed an increase in polysomes on rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER), and some mitochondria appeared to be completely surrounded by RER. AFP in untreated cells was found to be localized on ribosomes of RER, free ribosomes and occasionally also on microvilli of cell membranes by electronmicroscopic and immunohistochemical analysis. After DBc-AMP treatment, increased staining of AFP was identified on ribosomes of RER and microvilli of cell membranes as well as on nuclear membranes. These results suggest that DBc-AMP accelerates the production and release of AFP in cultured rat ascites hepatoma cells.