In a previous work  we showed that a neutral extract of bovine adult retina RE can stimulate the growth and modify the morphology of bovine epithelial lens (BEL) cells in vitro. We were also able to demonstrate that the differences in cell shape are closely related to the cell growth properties induced by RE and are mediated by cytoskeletal protein organization as well as external proteins. In this study, we report the results of further investigations on this retinal extract. We show that it possesses all the characteristics of other growth factors such as promoting proliferation in low serum concentration or of enhancing the colony-forming efficiency of BEL cells considerably. By comparing the morphological response of BEL cells treated with RE with the response of other cells to other growth factors, we propose that the phenotypic modifications are cell specific, but not growth factor specific. We report also that RE has a broad spectrum of activity since it is able to stimulate cells from different origins and species (vascular and corneal endothelial cells, myoblasts, chondrocytes, neuroblastoma cells, and keratinocytes), but not all of them, since it can be toxic for fibroblasts. In this respect, it has an activity similar in many aspects to FGF and EGF, while it differs from them for some target cells. Its action has also been compared with the effects of retinoic acid derivatives and shown to be strikingly different. RE-like activity can be found in other ocular tissues from bovine and other species. The highest growth-promoting capacities were found in extracts of iris, pigmented epithelium with choroid, and vitreous body. The nature of all these extracts has not yet been determined. Since they are prepared in a similar way and since they have similar growth-promoting activity, we postulate that there is an ubiquitous growth factor in the eye called eye-derived growth factor (EDGF) which may play an important role in physiology and pathology of the eye.