Bone volume is determined by the relative rates of bone formation and bone resorption. Recent research in several laboratories suggests that growth factors may act locally to modulate bone formation by stimulating osteoblast proliferation and activity. A number of bone-derived growth factors have been isolated and characterized from bone matrix extracts and from media conditioned by bone cells and bone organs in culture. The growth factors found in bone matrix include insulinlike growth factors I and II, transforming growth factor-beta, acidic and basic fibroblast growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, and bone morphogenetic proteins. Conditioned medium from bone cells contains several of these growth factors and also hematopoietic factors. These bone matrix-derived growth factors have different biologic activities, including mitogenic, differentiating, chemotactic, and osteolytic activities. Evidence suggests that bone cells produce substantial quantities of growth factors for extracellular storage in bone matrix. Apart from being produced for extracellular storage, it is possible that growth factors secreted by bone cells have acute effects on their neighboring osteoblastic cells, i.e., paracrine action, or on themselves, i.e., autocrine action. The release of matrix-stored growth factors by bone resorption may mean that growth factors act as delayed paracrine agents, e.g., osteoblasts deposit growth factors in bone and later when these growth factors are released from bone via bone resorption, the growth factors stimulate osteoblast precursors to proliferate. The findings that bone is a storehouse for growth factors and that bone cells in culture produce and respond to bone growth factors suggest bone growth factors may act as potential determinants of local bone formation. This review is focused on the structure, regulation, and biologic actions of the known bone growth factors.