Activin and inhibin are polypeptide factors which control the release of follicle stimulating hormone(FSH) from pituitary cells. The recent finding that erythroid differentiation factor(EDF) is identical to activin showed the multifunctional feature of this protein. To identify the specific receptor for activin, the binding of 125I-labeled activinA was investigated for a number of culture cell lines. Friends leukemia cell, which can be differentiated by activin, and embryonal carcinoma(EC) cells(PCC3, P19 and F9), were found to express 3500-20,000 per cell of activin receptors. Scatchard plot analysis of the binding data shows that the receptors on those cells could be divided into two groups with different Kd values. The Kd values of high and low affinity receptors are 0.15-0.4 nM and 1.5-3.0 nM respectively. The proportion of the number of the high and low affinity receptors was varied in each cell. Inhibin was able to compete for activin binding to both types of receptors, although the binding affinity was about 50-200 fold lower than that of activinA. Transforming growth factor-beta had no binding ability to the activin receptors.