Glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine (GHK) is a tripeptide with affinity for copper(II) ions and was isolated from human plasma. This peptide appears to play a physiological role in wound healing. We report the stimulating effect of GHK-Cu on collagen synthesis by fibroblasts. The stimulation began between 10(-12) and 10(-11) M, maximized at 10(-9) M, and was independent of any change in cell number. The presence of a GHK triplet in the alpha 2(I) chain of type I collagen suggests that the tripeptide might be liberated by proteases at the site of a wound and exert in situ healing effects.