In addition to acting as a physical barrier against microorganisms, the skin produces antimicrobial peptides and proteins. After wounding, growth factors are produced to stimulate the regeneration of tissue. The growth factor response ceases after regeneration of the tissue, when the physical barrier protecting against microbial infections is re-established. We found that the growth factors important in wound healing, insulin-like growth factor I and TGF-alpha, induce the expression of the antimicrobial peptides/polypeptides human cationic antimicrobial protein hCAP-18/LL-37, human beta-defensin 3, neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor in human keratinocytes. Both an individual and a synergistic effect of these growth factors were observed. These findings offer an explanation for the expression of these peptides/polypeptides in the skin disease psoriasis and in wound healing and define a host defense role for growth factors in wound healing.