The platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) is a potent chemoattractant for cells that respond to PDGF as a mitogen. The chemotactic response of these cells to PDGF is inversely related to their rate of proliferation, with quiescent cells exhibiting a 25-fold greater chemotactic response than exponentially growing cells. Factors that stimulate the growth of quiescent cells (EGF, FGF, PDGF, and serum) decrease the cells' migratory response to PDGF but not to fibronectin, suggesting that the decreased migration is not due to a general paralysis of cell motility. Transformed lines of NIH/3T3 cells lose their ability to respond to PDGF as a chemoattractant but can still migrate in response to fibronectin. Similarly, after treatment of 3T3 cells with the tumor-promoter phorbol myristate acetate, which induces a transformation-like phenotype, the cells no longer respond to PDGF as a chemoattractant but retain their migratory response to fibronectin. Thus it appears that the growth state of the cells can alter their migratory response to PDGF. These data suggest that growth factors, transformation, and tumor promoters specifically alter the cells' ability to respond to the PDGF-mediated chemotactic signal. It appears that both transformation and tumor promoters accomplish this by altering PDGF-binding to the cell surface.