The involvement of growth factors in cell survival in the presence of anticancer drugs was investigated. Cell death was induced in the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7, by the structurally and mechanistically unrelated chemotherapeutic drugs puromycin, actinomycin D, 5-fluorouracil, cisplatin, and adriamycin. The effect of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), epidermal growth factor (EGF), and insulin on cell death was evaluated by two different methods: (1) trypan blue dye exclusion test and (2) lactic dehydrogenase release into the culture medium. IGF-1 inhibited cell death induced by each of the diverse drugs in a concentration-dependent manner reaching a maximal effect at 40 ng/ml. Insulin mimicked the effect of IGF-1 only at supraphysiological concentration with an optimal effect at 10,000 ng/ml. EGF had no effect on cell death up to 100 ng/ml. Our finding that IGF-1 specifically enhanced MCF-7 cell survival in the presence of different anticancer drugs suggests the involvement of growth factors in the mechanism of drug resistance.