Epiregulin, a novel epidermal growth factor (EGF)-related growth regulating peptide, was purified from conditioned medium of the mouse fibroblast-derived tumor cell line NIH3T3/clone T7. It was a 46-amino-acid single chain polypeptide, and its amino acid sequence exhibited 24-50% amino acid sequence identity with sequences of other EGF-related growth factors. Epiregulin exhibited bifunctional regulatory properties: it inhibited the growth of several epithelial tumor cells and stimulated the growth of fibroblasts and various other types of cells. Epiregulin bound to the EGF receptors of epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells much more weakly than did EGF, but was nevertheless much more potent than EGF as a mitogen for rat primary hepatocytes and Balb/c 3T3 A31 fibroblasts. These findings suggest that epiregulin plays important roles in regulating the growth of epithelial cells and fibroblasts by binding to receptors for EGF-related ligands.