We investigated the effects of human placental scatter factor (hSF), mouse scatter factor (mSF) and recombinant human hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) on motility and morphology of individual Madin-Darby canine kidney cells using a computerized cell tracking system. All three factors increased the velocity of individual cells and the ratio of moving to stationary cells. Similarly, all three factors caused changes in morphologic features of cells, leading to increased area, flatness, and polarity. Increases in area and flatness but not polarity were slightly greater with HGF than with hSF or mSF. These results suggest that SFs and HGF have similar effects on motility and morphology of isolated epithelial cells.