The insulin-like growth factors I and II (IGF-I, IGF-II), their receptors, and high affinity binding proteins (IGFBPs) represent a family of cellular modulators that play essential roles in the development and differentiation of cells and tissues including the skeleton. Recently, the human osteosarcoma cell line HOS 58 cells were used as an in vitro model of osteoblast differentiation characterized by (i) a rapid proliferation rate in low-density cells that decreased continuously with time of culture and (ii) an increasing secretion of matrix proteins during their in vitro differentiation. In the present paper, HOS 58 cells with low cell density at early time points of the in vitro differentiation (i) displayed a low expression of IGF-I and -II; (ii) synthesized low levels of IGFBP-2, -3, -4, and -5, but (iii) showed high expression levels of both the type I and II IGF receptors. During the in vitro differentiation of HOS 58 cells, IGF-I and -II expressions increased continuously in parallel with an upregulation of IGFBP-2, -3, -4, and -5 whereas the IGF-I receptor and IGF-II/M6P receptor mRNA were downregulated. In conclusion, the high proliferative activity in low cell density HOS 58 cells was associated with high mRNA levels of the IGF-IR, but low concentrations of IGFBP-2. The rate of proliferation of HOS 58 cells continuously decreased during cultivation in parallel with a decline in IGF-IR expression, but increase of mitoinhibitory IGFBP-2. These data are indicative for a role of the IGF axis during the in vitro differentiation of HOS 58 cells.