Transplantable tumor (KE) and clone cell (KE-F11) lines were established from a spontaneous malignant schwannoma found in an aged F344 rat. The primary tumor and KE tumors consisted of oval or spindle cells arranged in ill-defined bundles. Cultured KE-F11 cells exhibited polygonal or spindle configurations. Immunohistochemically, neoplastic cells in KE and KE-F11 reacted to vimentin, S-100 protein, neuron-specific enolase, myelin basic protein, and glial fibrillary acidic protein in varying degrees, indicating neurogenic features; occasional cells reacted to alpha-smooth muscle actin. Cells positive for lysosomal enzymes (acid phosphatase and non-specific esterase), and ED1 (rat macrophage specific) were observed in KE-F11, and electron microscopically, cells with many lysosomes were frequently present, indicating expression of macrophage-like phenotypes. Bioassay analysis revealed that KE-F11 cells produced high levels of nerve growth factor. DNA synthesis was inhibited by addition of transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1), and Northern blot analysis revealed that expression of c-myc, a cell cycle-related immediate early gene, was depressed by TGF-beta1. Likely, TGF-beta1 is a factor capable of inhibiting cellular growth of Schwann cells. mRNA expression of the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) was seen in KE-F11 cells by Northern blot analysis, and the level was decreased by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) treatment. LRP may be attributable to regulation of Schwann cell functions. KE-F11 cells seeded on laminin-coated dishes exhibited more extended cytoplasmic projections than on collagen type I-coated dishes. The present study provides evidence that biological properties of malignant schwannoma-derived cells might be affected by exogenous factors such as TGF-beta1, LPS and laminin. These tumor lines may be useful for studies on pathobiological characteristics of Schwann cells.