Transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha) is a single chain polypeptide which exists in a variety of forms differing in molecular weight. These forms are variously present in normal and neoplastic cells. Of particular interest are TGF-alpha's well-known mitogenic properties. The transition from a normal to a neoplastic cellular state results from signalling defects that may depend upon, inter alia, abnormal levels of expression and secretion of TGF-alpha. It is known that the secretion of TGF-alpha may be enhanced appreciably by agents such as phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), serum factors and epidermal growth factor (EGF). Here, we compare the efficacy of these three agents in the elevation of TGF-alpha secretion in the well studied A431 cell line with their previously undocumented efficacy in certain interesting, but little known, human oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) lines.