Biosynthesis and processing of amphiregulin (AR) have been investigated in human colorectal (HCA-7, Caco-2) and mammary (MCF-7) cancer cell lines, as well as in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells stably expressing various human AR precursor (pro-AR) forms. Both cells expressing endogenous and transfected AR produce multiple cellular and soluble forms of AR with an N-glycosylated 50-kDa pro-AR form being predominant. Our results demonstrate that sequential proteolytic cleavage within the ectodomain of the 50-kDa pro-AR form leads to release of a predominant N-glycosylated 43-kDa soluble AR, as well as the appearance of other cellular and soluble AR forms. Cell surface biotinylation studies using a C-terminal epitope-tagged pro-AR indicate that all cell surface forms are membrane-anchored and support that AR is released by ectodomain cleavage of pro-AR at the plasma membrane. We also show that pro-AR ectodomain cleavage is a regulated process, which can be stimulated by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate and inhibited by the metalloprotease inhibitor, batimastat. In addition, we provide evidence that high molecular mass AR forms may retain the full-length N-terminal pro-region, which may influence the biological activities of these forms.