It was recently demonstrated that growth in cell size can be dissociated from DNA synthesis and mitosis. 3T3 cells starved to quiescence in low serum concentration can be stimulated to undergo DNA synthesis and one cell division without growing in size (unbalanced growth) (42-44). We report here that in cells stimulated to undergo unbalanced growth, the cell nucleus undergoes balanced growth, i.e., nearly doubles in size prior to mitosis. The reduced ability to grow in cell size under unbalanced growth conditions is thus mainly ascribable to the cytoplasm. Furthermore, the extent to which cells grow in size prior to mitosis is dependent on the serum concentration in the tissue culture medium (44). This data suggests that some macromolecular factor or factors in serum are required for growth in cell size prior to mitosis. We report in this study that epidermal growth factor (EGF) alone exerts a small but significant stimulatory influence on DNA synthesis and mitosis but does not affect cellular enlargement. In contrast, insulin added at supraphysiological concentrations does not stimulate quiescent cells to enter S phase but instead stimulates growth in cell size in the small fraction of dividing cells. Furthermore, cells stimulated to proliferate by EGF could be induced to undergo balanced growth when insulin was added concomitantly. Finally, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) stimulates quiescent sparse 3T3 cells to undergo DNA synthesis and mitosis. PDGF also exerts a limited but significant effect on cellular enlargement. However, PDGF alone could not induce a complete balanced growth, i.e., a doubling in cell size prior to mitosis.