The expression pattern of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and its receptor suggest a role in lens cell proliferation. PDGF is strongly expressed in the iris and ciliary body, situated opposite the proliferative cells of the lens epithelium which express the PDGF-alpha receptor. In this study, using lens epithelial explant cultures, we report that PDGF can induce a dose and time dependent increase in lens cell DNA synthesis. Culturing lens explants with both PDGF and FGF (a mitogen and differentiation factor for lens cells) resulted in responses greater than those induced by either growth factor alone. PDGF did not induce any changes typical of fibre differentiation; however, in combination with FGF it potentiated the fibre differentiating activity of FGF. Results obtained in this study support previous indications that PDGF has an important role in regulating lens cell proliferation. In addition, PDGF may have a role in potentiating FGF-induced lens fibre differentiation in vivo.