The matrix metalloproteinases are a family of enzymes that degrade the extracellular matrix and are considered to be important in tumour invasion and metastasis. The effect of epidermal growth factor (EGF) on matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP1) production in two human bladder tumour cell lines, RT112 and RT4, has been investigated. In the RT112 cell line, an increase in MMP1 mRNA levels was found after a 6-h incubation with EGF, and this further increased to 20-fold that of control levels at 24- and 48-h treatment with 50 ng ml(-1) of EGF. MMP2 mRNA levels remained constant over this time period, whereas in the RT4 cells no MMP2 transcripts were detectable, but MMP1 transcripts again increased with 24- and 48-h treatment with 50 ng ml(-1) of EGF. MMP1 protein concentration in the conditioned medium from both cell lines increased with 24- and 48-h treatment of the cells and the total MMP1 was higher in the medium than the cells, demonstrating that the bladder tumour cell lines synthesize and secrete MMP1 protein after continuous stimulation with EGF. MMP1 protein was detected in urine from patients with bladder tumours, with a significant increase in concentration with increased stage and grade of tumour. MMP1 urine concentrations may therefore be a useful prognostic indicator for bladder tumour progression.