We studied about the physicochemical stability of a novel heparin-binding growth/differentiation factor, midkine (MK). It was found that synthetic human MK was heat and acid stable. Neither incubation at 80 degrees C for 90 sec nor treatment at low pH affected the elution profile of MK molecule on the high performance liquid chromatography. This physicochemical stability was maintained in the biological activities of MK to enhance plasminogen activator (PA) activity in bovine endothelial cells as well as to promote neurite outgrowth of rat brain cells. A similar stability was observed both with recombinant murine MK and with its homologous protein, recombinant human pleiotrophin. Comparison of physicochemical stability with other several growth factors suggested that MK/pleiotrophin was a unique family of heat and acid stable polypeptides capable of enhancing PA activity and neurite outgrowth.