Promoters of many smooth muscle-specific genes (SM-genes) contain multiple CArG boxes, which represent a binding site for serum response factor (SRF). Transcriptional control through these regions involves interactions with SRF and specific coactivators such as myocardin. We have previously reported that suppression of SM-gene expression by platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) is associated with redistribution of SRF, leading to lower intra-nuclear levels, and a reduction in SRF transactivation. To further assess the role of SRF depletion on VSMC phenotype, the current study used RNA interference (RNAi). Two SRF-specific sequences constructed as hairpins were stably expressed in rat VSMC. Clones expressing SRF RNAi had no detectable SRF expression by immunoblotting, and showed diminished levels of SM alpha-actin protein and promoter activity. Unexpectedly, depletion of VSMC resulted in increased rates of proliferation and migration. Several genes whose expression is increased by PDGF stimulation, including c-Jun, were similarly induced in cells lacking SRF. Effects of SRF depletion were not attributable to altered PDGF receptor activity or alterations in activation of Akt. These data indicate that loss of SRF transactivation in VSMC, in this case through suppression via RNAi, induces biological responses similar to that seen with PDGF.