Cultures of the human mammary carcinoma line ZR-75-1 secrete a growth inhibitory factor (GIF) that, when diluted, slows the growth of MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 cells. Undiluted "conditioned" media prevents cell division from occurring in both human breast cancer lines. ZR-75-1 cells are unaffected by this factor. The amount of GIF in the culture media is related to the confluency of the ZR-75-1 cells. The activity of this GIF is not altered by DNAse or RNAse but is destroyed by heating or trypsin. Growth inhibition is 85-90% reversible if conditioned media is replaced with fresh media.