We report the development of a new serum-free medium based on the use of factorial experiments. At first, a variety of hydrolysates were screened using a fractional factorial approach with High-Five cells. From this experiment yeastolate ultrafiltrate was found to have, by far, the most important effect on cell growth. Furthermore, Primatone RL was found to remarkably prolong the stationary phase of Sf-9 and High-Five cell cultures. The optimal concentrations for yeastolate and Primatone were determined to be 0.6 and 0.5%, respectively, on the basis of a complete factorial experiment. This new medium, called YPR, supported good growth of both Sf-9 and High-Five cells in batch cultures, with maximal densities of 5.4 and 6.1 x 10(6) cells/ml, respectively. In addition, both cell lines achieved good growth in bioreactor batch culture and had a prolonged stationary phase of 3-4 d in YPR medium compared to Insect-XPRESS medium. The ability of the new medium to support recombinant protein expression was also tested by infecting Sf-9 or High-Five cells at high density (2 x 10(6) cells/ml) with a baculovirus expressing secreted placental alkaline phosphatase (SEAP). The maximum total SEAP concentration after 7 d was about 43 lU/ml (58 mg/L) and 28 lU/ml (39 mg/L) for High-Five and Sf-9 cells, respectively.