Isomers of fibroblast growth factor and members of the transforming growth factor beta family have been identified as potent mesoderm inducing factors, particularly in amphibians. Activins belonging to the latter group are capable of inducing all types of mesoderm. Inhibins, also belonging to the same family of proteins have an exactly opposite biological action than activins in the adult organism. We have examined the effects of human seminal plasma inhibin on the early development of the chick embryo, where also activins appear to be important in mesoderm induction. Contrary to expectations, inhibin brought about stimulation of development of somites and heart, structures of mesodermal origin, and increase in the body length in more than 50% of the treated chick blastoderms. A synthetic fragment of human seminal plasma inhibin, a nonapeptide fragment of C-terminal end, also exhibited similar effects. In some cases the treatments resulted in completely abnormal development while in some increase in the number of somites was associated with abnormality in the anterior region. Our results demonstrate that human seminal plasma inhibin does not act as an inhibitor of mesoderm induction in the chick embryo but in amniotes inhibin-related molecules may have a role as mesoderm enhancers.