Proliferation of human skin fibroblasts was stimulated significantly by the presence of L-ascorbic acid 2-phosphate (Asc 2-P). The presence of Asc 2-P (0.1-1.0 mM) in the culture medium for 3 weeks enhanced the relative rate of collagen synthesis to total protein synthesis 2-fold as well as cell growth 4-fold. Coexistence of L-azetidine 2-carboxylic acid (AzC), an inhibitor of collagen synthesis, attenuated both effects of Asc 2-P in a dose-dependent manner. Supplementation of the medium with Asc 2-P also accelerated procollagen processing to collagen and deposition of collagen in the cell layer. Among the acidic glycosaminoglycans (GAG), another major component of extracellular matrix (ECM), deposition of sulfated forms was increased by the additive. Electron microscopic observations showed multilayered, rough endoplasmic reticulum-rich cells surrounded by dense ECM. These results indicate that Asc 2-P is useful in culture systems as a long-acting vitamin C derivative and also that it promotes reorganization of a three-dimensional tissuelike substance from skin fibroblasts in culture by stimulating collagen accumulation in the fibroblasts.