Fibroblastic and epithelioid clones have been isolated from the normal rat kidney line, NRK. These clones were studied for their ability to bind epidermal growth factor (EGF), susceptibility to transformation by mouse sarcoma virus (MSV), and alteration in EGF binding upon sarcoma virus transformation. The epithelioid clones bound much more EGF than the fibroblastic clones; Scatchard plots on two of these clones, one epithelioid and one fibroblastic, showed that the higher EGF binding (1.3 x 10(5) molecules per cell for the epithelioid clone and 1.3 x 10(4) molecules per cell for the fibroblastic clone) was due to a greater number or receptors on the epithelioid cells rather than to a difference in the apparent affinity constant. When the clones were transformed by Moloney murine sarcoma virus the EGF binding decreased, the effect being greater with the fibroblastic clones. In 20 out of 20 independently isolated sarcoma virus transformed fibroblastic clones, the level of EGF binding was either greatly reduced or completely eliminated. In contrast to EGF, another growth factor, multiplication stimulating activity (MSA), bound to a greater extent to the fibroblastic clones than the epithelioid clones, and its binding was not decreased by sarcoma virus transformation. The results show that loss of EGF binding ability correlates with expression of the murine sarcoma virus transformation.