Autocrine activation of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor on keratinocytes has been recognized as an important growth regulatory mechanism involved in epithelial homeostasis, and, possibly, hyperproliferative diseases. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 and insulin have been shown to be paracrine keratinocyte mitogens that bind to the type I IGF receptor which is expressed on actively proliferating keratinocytes in situ. In this report, we demonstrate that IGF-1/insulin induced production of keratinocyte-derived autocrine growth factors that bind to the EGF receptor. Increased steady-state mRNA levels for transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha) and for amphiregulin (AR) were observed upon incubation of keratinocytes with mitogenic concentrations of IGF-1. IGF-1 also induced production and secretion of TGF-alpha and AR proteins as detected by immunoassays. An EGF receptor antagonistic monoclonal antibody abolished the mitogenic effect of IGF-1 on cultured keratinocytes. These results suggest that stimulation of keratinocyte growth of IGF-1 requires activation of an EGF receptor-mediated autocrine loop.