Seven established cell lines, including both epithelial cells and fibroblasts (MDCK, Vero, CV-1, NRK, 3T3, F2408, and NIL8) and four early passage cell strains (bovine articular chondrocytes, bovine smooth muscle cells, human foreskin fibroblasts, and rat embryo cells) were cultured in serum-free medium supplemented with milk obtained 1 day after birth (colostrum) or 80 days after birth (older milk). MDCK, Vero, CV-1, NRK, and 3T3 grew readily in colostrum and attained saturation densities ranging from 22% to 63% of that in serum. There was no growth of F2408, NIL8, or the early passage strains in bovine colostrum. None of the 11 cell cultures grew in older milk. The temporal dependence of growth in milk was examined in detail using MDCK cells. Growth equivalent to that in serum occurred in 3% colostrum and in 15% milk obtained 2 days after birth. Milk obtained 3 days and 10 days after birth was not effective as a growth supplement for MDCK cells at any concentration. Those cells, unable to grow in colostrum or in older milk, could be induced to grow if culture dishes were precoated with fibronectin. In addition to fibronectin, it was necessary in some cultures to supplement colostrum or older milk with insulin and/or transferrin in order to achieve growth. In the presence of fibronectin and appropriate factors, the final saturation density attained in colostrum or older milk ranged from 25% to 100% of that in serum. The fibronectin contents of bovine colostrum and milk were determined. The fibronectin level of colostrum was found to be approximately 5% of bovine serum. There was no detectable fibronectin in the 80-day-old milk.