We established a steroidogenic human ovarian granulosa-like tumor cell line, designated KGN, from a patient with invasive ovarian granulosa cell carcinoma. KGN had a relatively long population doubling time of about 46.4 h and had an abnormal karyotype of 45,XX, 7q-, -22. A steroid analysis of the cultured medium by RIA performed 5 yr after the initiation of culture showed that KGN was able to secrete pregnenolone and progesterone, and both dramatically increased after stimulation with (Bu)(2)cAMP. However, little or no secretion of 17alpha-hydroxylated steroids, dehydroepiandrosterone, androstenedione, or estradiol was observed. The aromatase activity of KGN was relatively high and was further stimulated by (Bu)(2)cAMP or FSH. These findings showed a pattern similar to that of steroidogenesis in human granulosa cells, thus allowing analysis of naturally occurring steroidogenesis in human granulosa cells. Fas-mediated apoptosis of KGN was also observed, which mimicked the physiological regulation of apoptosis in normal human granulosa cells. Based on these findings, this cell line is considered to be a very useful model for understanding the regulation of steroidogenesis, cell growth, and apoptosis in human granulosa cells.