In cell culture, type alpha transforming growth factor (TGF-alpha) stimulates epithelial cell growth, whereas TGF-beta 1 overrides this stimulatory effect and is growth inhibitory. Transgenic mice that overexpress TGF-alpha under control of the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) promoter/enhancer exhibit mammary ductal hyperplasia and stochastic development of mammary carcinomas, a process that can be accelerated by administration of the chemical carcinogen 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene. MMTV-TGF-beta 1 transgenic mice display mammary ductal hypoplasia and do not develop mammary tumors. We report that in crossbreeding experiments involving the production of mice carrying both the MMTV-TGF-beta 1 and MMTV-TGF-alpha transgenes, there is marked suppression of mammary tumor formation and that MMTV-TGF-beta 1 transgenic mice are resistant to 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene-induced mammary tumor formation. These data demonstrate that overexpression of TGF-beta 1 in vivo can markedly suppress mammary tumor development.