The introduction of activated c-myc and v-myc genes into a variety of non-established and established cells results in the suppression of endogenous c-myc expression. As measured in Rat-1 fibroblasts, the suppression occurs at the level of transcriptional initiation. Moreover, the extent of the down-regulation is proportional to the cellular concentration of c-myc protein, and the critical concentration range in which the endogenous c-myc RNA is effectively suppressed corresponds to that found in non-transformed cells. In addition, the autoregulatory mechanism is not only dependent on c-myc protein, but also requires additional trans-acting factors. These results support a role for c-myc in the regulation of cellular gene transcription and suggest that a negative feedback mechanism can act as a homeostatic regulator of c-myc expression in vivo.