We have previously reported that a combination of transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) synergistically increases the proliferation of chondrocytes obtained from knee joint immobilized for 7-14 days in male Japanese white rabbits. In the present study, we performed experiments with chondrocytes and syn ovial fluid obtained from rabbit knees immobilized for 0-42 days, to clarify the sequential changes in TGF-beta1 and bFGF concentrations in synovial fluid and the mRNA expression of TGF-beta1 receptor type I (RI) and II (RII) in chondrocytes after immobilization. The combination of TGF-beta1 and bFGF had a synergistic effect on the proliferation of chondrocytes obtained from knee joints immobilized for 7-14 days. The concentration of TGF-beta1 in synovial fluid was significantly higher (up to 3.6-fold) at 7-28 days after immobilization compared with that at 2 days. The mRNA for RI and RII was expressed during the whole immobilization period. The con centration of bFGF was kept at the same level at 2-7 days after immobilization, and gradually decreased thereafter. In the early stages of degenerated cartilage, up to 14 days after immobilization, the concentrations of both TGF-beta1 and bFGF were higher in the synovial fluid and mRNA expression of TGF-beta1 receptors in chondrocytes was kept.