Dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) synthesis is regulated in a growth-dependent fashion. Dividing cells synthesize DHFR at a 10-fold-higher rate than do stationary cells. To study this growth-dependent synthesis. DHFR genes have been constructed from a DHFR cDNA segment, the adenovirus major late promoter, and fragments of simian virus 40 (SV40) which provide signals for polyadenylation. These genes have been introduced into Chinese hamster ovary cells. The DHFR mRNAs produced in different transformants are identical at their 5' ends, but differ in sequences in their 3' ends as different sites are utilized for polyadenylation. Three transformants that utilize either DHFR polyadenylation signals or the SV40 late polyadenylation signal exhibit growth-dependent DHFR synthesis. The level of DHFR mRNA in growing cells is approximately 10 times that in stationary cells for these transformants. This growth-dependent DHFR mRNA production probably results from posttranscriptional events. In contrast, three transformants that utilize the SV40 early polyadenylation signal and another transformant that utilizes a cellular polyadenylation signal do not exhibit growth-dependent DHFR synthesis. In these three cell lines, the fraction of mRNAs polyadenylated at different sites in a tandem array shifts between growing and stationary cells. These results suggest that the metabolic state of the cell is important in determining either the efficiency of polyadenylation at various sites or the stability of mRNA polyadenylated at various sites.