Studies of growth-regulation of neuroendocrine cells have been hampered by a lack of suitable in vitro models. We established and have maintained a functioning human pancreatic carcinoid cell (BON) line. BON cells synthesize and secrete several growth factors. Among those, we have found that serotonin stimulates growth of BON cells through specific receptors linked to cyclic AMP pathway. In this study, effects of other growth factors on growth and serotonin release, and the effects of serotonin and TGF-beta 1 on the polyamine biosynthetic pathway, were examined. TGF-beta 1 inhibited both growth and serotonin release in a dose-dependent fashion. Basic FGF stimulated growth, but failed to affect serotonin release. Other peptide growth factors had no effect on either growth or serotonin release. Serotonin stimulated ODC enzyme activity, but TGF-beta 1 failed to affect ODC enzyme activity. These findings suggest that growth of neuroendocrine cells can be delicately regulated by their own products in an autocrine fashion.