Human acidic and basic fibroblast growth factors (aFGF and bFGF) inhibit epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor binding in mouse Swiss 3T3 cells. Scatchard analysis indicates that aFGF and bFGF cause a decrease in the high affinity EGF receptor population, similar to that observed for activators of protein kinase C such as phorbol esters, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and bombesin. However, unlike phorbol esters, aFGF and bFGF inhibit EGF binding in protein kinase C-deficient cells. The time course and dose response of inhibition of EGF binding by both aFGF and bFGF are very similar, with an ID50 of approximately 0.10 ng/ml. In contrast to bombesin but like PDGF, neither aFGF nor bFGF act on the EGF receptor through a pertussis toxin-sensitive G protein. These results indicate that both acidic and basic FGF depress high affinity EGF binding in Swiss 3T3 cells with similar potency through a protein kinase C/Gi-independent pathway.