Acute phase protein expression is regulated by a variety of cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, IL-11, tumour necrosis factor alpha, interferon-gamma, oncostatin-M, leukemia inhibitory factor, ciliary neurotrophic factor and cardiotrophin-1. Presently, IL-6 is regarded as the most potent mediator of acute phase protein (APP) synthesis. It was shown that IL-6 and IL-6-type cytokines activate the so-called JAK/STAT pathway and finally regulate APP expression in liver cells. Since HGF/SF is also capable of regulating APP expression, we asked whether it might also signal via the JAK/STAT pathway. Here we show that incubation of human hepatocytes as well as hepatoma cells (HepG2) with HGF/SF results in activation of the transcription factor STAT3. This STAT3 activation after HGF/SF did not occur before 5-7 h and was maintained up to 28 h. These observations are in contrast to the rapid and transient activation of STAT1 and STAT3 mediated by IL-6.