BALB/c mice injected with seven 0.15-ml samples of whole rabbit serum over a 2-week period developed nonneoplastic proliferation of the extrahepatic bile duct epithelium and glandular components. Sera from other animals, including bovines, humans, pigs, goats, and chickens as well as non-serum-containing secretions such as human breast milk and bile also produced this effect. Partial purification utilizing gel filtration and affinity chromatography of the active 33-65% saturated ammonium sulfate precipitate of whole serum indicated that the distribution and characteristics of this glycoprotein showed some similarities with those of IgA. Chromatographically purified human IgA was administered to BALB/c mice and was found to induce bile duct proliferation identical to that seen with whole human serum. Purified human IgG and IgM had no activity. Since IgA-containing serum from BALB/c mice was inactive, it appears that heterologous IgA functions as a specific extrahepatic bile duct growth factor (BDGF) in BALB/c mice. Murine susceptibility to the growth-stimulating effect of serum was strain specific; genetic studies utilizing crosses of susceptible (BALB/c) and resistant (C57BL/10) strains of mice revealed that the ability to respond to the infusion of BDGF is inherited in a polygenic fashion.