Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) constitute a sub-group of the large transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) family. They play important roles in the embryonic development of multiple structures and in adult bone modeling. We have recently isolated a novel member of the BMP family from placenta, termed PLAB. PLAB is expressed highly in placenta, but can be found upon stringent analysis in low levels in most other tissues. At the amino acid level, PLAB is most closely related to BMP-8/OP-2, another member of the BMP family. Like TGF-beta, PLAB inhibits the proliferation of primitive hematopoietic progenitors. The high expression of PLAB by placenta raises the possibility that it may be a mediator of placental control of embryonic development.