A novel protein-free synthetic medium has been developed for the culture of human squamous cell carcinoma cells. This medium, designated PF86-1, supports the serial subcultivation of six out of nine human squamous cell carcinoma cell lines in a protein-free, chemically defined condition without the adapting culture from serum-containing conditions. These cell lines growing in PF86-1 exhibited nearly equal potency to grow in massive culture without noticeable changes in morphology but presented a significantly decreased level of colony forming efficiency when compared with the cells cultured in serum-containing media, suggesting the implication of some autocrine mechanism. Interestingly, this medium supported the growth of normal human squamous cells of oral mucosa and skin for more than 2 mo. in the primary explant culture in spite of high levels of calcium ion concentration, where the overgrowth of fibroblasts as contaminant was not observed. These results suggest that PF86-1 supports the growth of cells derived from epidermal tissues selectively and provides the same defined condition for growth of malignant and nonmalignant human squamous cells. It seems, therefore, that PF86-1 allows investigations on the products of squamous cell carcinoma cells or on the differences of growth mechanisms between normal and neoplastic human squamous cells.