Two modes of mast cell growth are present, one dependent on diffusible growth factors (interleukins [IL] 3 and 4) and another dependent on contact with fibroblasts. The 3T3 fibroblast cell lines derived from WCB6F1-+/+ mouse embryos supported the proliferation of cultured mast cells (CMC), whereas the 3T3 fibroblast cell lines from WCB6F1-Sl/Sld mouse embryos did not. To investigate the relationship between growth factor-dependent and fibroblast-dependent growths of mast cells, we cocultured CMC and 3T3 fibroblasts in the presence of diffusible growth factors. WCB6F1-+/+ mouse embryo-derived 3T3 cells did not affect the growth factor-dependent proliferation of CMC, but WCB6F1-Sl/Sld mouse embryo-derived 3T3 cells significantly suppressed the proliferation. Close cell-to-cell contact was necessary for the suppression. The NWS1 fibroblast cell line was established from the spleen cells of an adult WBB6F1-+/+ mouse. Although the NWS1 cell line had no supporting effect on the proliferation of CMC in the absence of diffusible growth factors, it did not suppress the proliferation of CMC induced by the growth factors. The present result suggests that a product of mutant Sl genes may be involved in the suppressive activity of WCB6F1-Sl/Sld mouse embryo-derived 3T3 cells.