Induction of mesoderm during early amphibian embryogenesis can be mimicked in vitro by adding growth factors, including heparin-binding and type-beta transforming growth factors (TGF-beta), to isolated ectoderm explants from Xenopus laevis embryos. Although the mesoderm-inducing factor (MIF) from X. laevis XTC cells (XTC-MIF) has properties similar to TGF-beta, this factor is still unidentified. Recently, we obtained a number of homogeneous cell lines from the heterogeneous XTC population, which differ in their MIF production. Only one, XTC-GTX-11, produced MIF, although it was similar to the rest of the clones in its production of known growth factors, including TGF-beta activity. This observation, together with the identification of activin A as a potent MIF led us to study the parallel activities of MIF and activin. Here we report an analysis of activin-like activity from XTC cells and some of the XTC clones, including XTC-GTX-11. There is a clear consistent correlation between MIF activity and presence of activin activity, indicating that XTC-MIF is the Xenopus homologue of mammalian activin.