Four corticosteroids were tested in vitro for effect on the proliferation of four strains of fibroblasts from scleroderma skin, four strains from normal adult skin and four strains of rheumatoid synovial cells. Significant effects on fibroblasts occurred only at the highest steroid concentration tested (10 microgram/ml) where the inhibitory ranking of the steriods was clobetasol propionate greater than clobetasone butyrate greater than betamethasone valerate greater than hydrocortisone. Hydrocortisone and betamethasone valerate stimulated proliferation of two normal strains, had no certain effect on the scleroderma group, and inhibited growth of synovial cells. Clobetasone butyrate and clobetasol propionate inhibited growth of all cells. All four steroids substantially reduced acid mucopolysaccharide secretion by scleroderma fibroblasts. These results suggest that fibroblasts from normal and abnormal skin show only small differences in their responses to corticosteroids in vitro, but contrast sharply with the mouse L-929 fibroblasts previously used in some assays of topical corticosteroid potency.