A serotonin-secreting human pancreatic carcinoid cell line (BON) is demonstrated to express transcripts for all three mammalian types of transforming growth factor beta (TGF beta 1, 2, and 3). Similarly, freshly excised carcinoid tumors from six patients were also found to express mRNA for all three of the type-beta TGFs. Medium conditioned by BON cells had detectable TGF beta activity, although most of the activity was latent as determined by radioreceptor assay with and without prior acid treatment. However, nonactivated BON-conditioned medium stimulated DNA synthesis, soft agar growth, and an increase in TGF beta 1 and fibronectin mRNA expression in AKR-2B fibroblasts. In addition, BON-conditioned medium had a potent endothelial cell growth-stimulatory activity. Since the TGF beta s inhibit growth of endothelial cells, the presence of other growth factors was suspected. TGF alpha, c-sis, and basic fibroblast growth factor transcripts were also found to be expressed by the BON carcinoid cells. These data indicate that multiple peptide growth factors may have a paracrine role in the desmoplastic reaction accompanying carcinoid tumors.