The influence of glucose concentration on cell multiplication and protein synthesis was studied in synchronized, long-term cultures of bovine retinal microvessel pericytes. The cell multiplication rate and the mitotic rate were reduced in media containing 20 mM glucose to 57% and 54%, respectively, of that obtained in media containing 5 mM glucose. Elevated glucose, however, did not change the DNA content of individual cells. Protein and collagen synthesis were measured by the incorporation of radioactive proline and lysine, or the posttranslational production of hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, respectively. High glucose stimulated protein and collagen synthesis per cell 2.2 +/- 0.10 (SD) and 2.1 +/- 0.06 times, respectively. Aspirin (0.5 mM), an inhibitor of nonenzymatic glycosylation, did not alter the effect of elevated glucose concentration on protein and collagen synthesis.