The effect of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3] on the growth of normal human keratinocytes cultured in serum-free medium was investigated. 1,25(OH)2D3 inhibited the cell growth at 10(-7) M by 75.3% and at 10(-6) M almost completely. The growth inhibition was accompanied by changes related to proliferation: (1) remarkable inhibition of DNA synthesis, (2) the decrease in the number of high-affinity receptors for epidermal growth factor, with almost no change in total receptor number, (3) the rapid decrease in c-myc mRNA level. The inhibition of DNA synthesis and the decrease of c-myc mRNA expression occurred at 3 h after the addition of 1,25(OH)2D3. These results suggest that decrease of c-myc mRNA expression is one of the primary effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 in the growth inhibition of human keratinocytes.