The rationale for TSH suppression in the treatment of follicular thyroid cancer (FTC) and papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) is to inhibit tumor growth, prevent recurrent disease, and eventually prolong survival. We analyzed the effects of TSH on invasion and growth of 3 FTC cell lines from 1 patient (FTC133, primary; FTC236, lymph node; FTC238, lung metastasis) and 2 PTC cell lines (PTC-UC1, PTC-UC3). Cell growth and invasion through an 8-micron pore polycarbonate membrane coated with Matrigel were measured using the MTT assay. The dose-response to TSH was biphasic, stimulating invasion and growth of FTC and PTC at low concentrations (0.1-10 mU/mL), and inhibiting them at high concentrations (100 mU/mL). Interestingly, the metastatic FTC cell lines had higher basal invasion, but were less responsive to TSH than the primary tumor. TSH (1 mU/mL) stimulated invasion of FTC133 by 21%, FTC236 by 8%, and FTC238 by 8% (p < 0.01). At 100 mU/mL, TSH inhibited invasion of FTC133 by 21%, compared to 11% in FTC236 and 12% in FTC238. Also, TSH dose-dependently influenced proliferation of follicular thyroid cancer cells. At low concentrations it stimulated growth of FTC133 (20%) and inhibited it at high concentrations (23%; p < 0.01). Again, the amplitude of TSH effects was significantly smaller in the cell lines from metastatic tumors. TSH affected invasion and growth of PTC-UC1 and PTC-UC3 also biphasically. These results show that TSH may act as a mitogenic and antimitogenic growth factor for invasion and proliferation of well-differentiated thyroid cancer cells in vitro.