The early monocyte infiltration observed in normal wound repair and in a number of pathologic processes precedes the epithelial and connective tissue proliferative responses, suggesting that the monocyte/macrophage may be an important source of growth factors for these tissues. In culture, activated macrophages secrete growth factors active on fibroblasts, smooth muscle, endothelium, and epithelium. This report demonstrates that activated human alveolar macrophages express the gene for transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha) in an inducible manner and secrete a factor into the culture medium that is functionally and immunologically identical to TGF-alpha. Two different molecular species of TGF-alpha activity (approximately 8,500-12,000 and 28,500 daltons) are identified in macrophage-conditioned medium. These observations establish the macrophage as a diploid human cell capable of synthesizing and secreting TGF-alpha. The activated macrophage therefore represents a cellular source of a mitogenic factor that is potentially important in epithelial proliferation and repair.