Abstract Activin and follistatin (FS) appear to play a role in the development of the skin and its appendages, in the inflammatory process, angiogenesis, and in wound healing. Although there is information on the expression of activin subunits and receptors in fibroblasts and keratinocytes, there are no reports on the regulation of FS expression in these cells. In the present study we analyzed the splicing variants of FS mRNAs in fibroblasts from genital and nongenital skin by RT-PCR and northern analysis, and examined the induction of FS mRNA and protein by hormones and growth factors in skin fibroblasts from human and nonhuman primates. FS mRNA was highly expressed in all fibroblast strains with similar expression regardless of donor species (human or monkey), donor age (neonate or adult), or the organ from which the fibroblast strains were established (skin or pituitary, genital or non-genital skin). Moreover, the band density corresponding to FS-288 was <5–10% of the value for FS-315 in skin fibroblasts as in all other tissues examined. Fibroblast FS mRNA and protein production were biphasically regulated by dexamethasone: low concentrations (0.01 and 0.1 nM) increased whereas higher concentrations (>1 nM) suppressed FS expression. On the other hand, androgens, activin and PACAP38 were without effect. These data establish cultured skin fibroblasts as a model to study FS gene expression in humans, and support a role for follistatin in the normal immune response and in the anti-inflammatory actions of glucocorticoids.