Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) is a major mitogen for connective tissue cells and certain other cell types. It is a dimeric molecule consisting of disulfide-bonded, structurally similar A- and B-polypeptide chains, which combine to homo- and heterodimers. The PDGF isoforms exert their cellular effects by binding to and activating two structurally related protein tyrosine kinase receptors, denoted the alpha-receptor and the beta-receptor. Activation of PDGF receptors leads to stimulation of cell growth, but also to changes in cell shape and motility; PDGF induces reorganization of the actin filament system and stimulates chemotaxis, i.e., a directed cell movement toward a gradient of PDGF. In vivo, PDGF has important roles during the embryonic development as well as during wound healing. Moreover, overactivity of PDGF has been implicated in several pathological conditions. The sis oncogene of simian sarcoma virus (SSV) is related to the B-chain of PDGF, and SSV transformation involves autocrine stimulation by a PDGF-like molecule. Similarly, overproduction of PDGF may be involved in autocrine and paracrine growth stimulation of human tumors. Overactivity of PDGF has, in addition, been implicated in nonmalignant conditions characterized by an increased cell proliferation, such as atherosclerosis and fibrotic conditions. This review discusses structural and functional properties of PDGF and PDGF receptors, the mechanism whereby PDGF exerts its cellular effects, and the role of PDGF in normal and diseased tissues.