Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) represent a group of polypeptide mitogens eliciting a wide variety of responses depending upon the target cell type. The knowledge of the cell surface receptors mediating the effects of FGFs has recently expanded remarkably. The complexity of the FGF family and the FGF-induced responses is reflected in the diversity and redundancy of the FGF receptors. In this review, a number of biochemical characteristics and biological properties of the FGF family and its receptors are described and their expression both in normal tissues and in tumours is discussed. Finally we speculate on the targetting of growth inhibition agents to tumours through FGF receptors.