We have cloned a novel member of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily from a human placental cDNA library. The sequence is identical to five very recently published sequences, of which only one (macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1, MIC-1) has been characterized in terms of function. In light of the present data demonstrating the wide distribution of the mRNA and putative multifunctionality, we propose to name this molecule growth/differentiation factor-15/MIC-1 (GDF-15/MIC-1). The deduced amino acid sequence reveals typical features of a secreted molecule. The epithelium of the choroid plexus is the only site in the adult brain expressing detectable levels of GDF-15/MIC-1 mRNA. Many epithelia of non-neural tissues including those of the prostate and intestinal mucosa, bronchi and bronchioli, secretory tubuli of the submandibular gland, and lactating mammary gland are prominent sites of GDF-15/MIC-1 synthesis. GDF-15/MIC-1 is also strongly expressed by macrophages in the adrenal gland. Thus, GDF-15/MIC-1, like many other members of the TGF-beta superfamily, is widely distributed in adult tissues, being most strongly expressed in epithelial cells and macrophages.