The failure of MCF7 cells to induce the formation of tumours after sub-cutaneous inoculation into athymic nude mice can be obviated by the simultaneous injection of an extract of basement membrane proteins (matrigel). Tumour growth is promoted and the latency period is low (2 to 4 weeks). In the absence of matrigel, the simultaneous inoculation of fibroblasts and MCF7 cells also resulted in the development of tumours, but with a longer latency period (about 2 months). The tumorigenic synergy between matrigel and fibroblasts was evidenced by co-inoculating MCF7 cells MDA-MB 231 cells with fibroblasts and matrigel. This co-inoculation decreased the delay of appearance of the tumours and/or accelerated the tumour growth, depending upon the number of fibroblasts injected. Repeated injections of fibroblasts conditioned medium, at the site of inoculum of tumour cells also enhanced tumour growth, suggesting the involvement of soluble factors secreted by fibroblasts. Histologically, tumours induced by co-inoculation of tumour cells and fibroblasts contained more stromal structures including vimentin-positive cells, fibronectin and interstitial collagens. These data suggest that human tumours may be reconstituted and grown in athymic nude mice using basement membrane components and fibroblasts as inductors.