Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a product of bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs), is a growth factor for multiple myeloma (MM) cells. Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) is also produced by BMSCs and can regulate IL- 6 secretion by several tissues, including BMSCs. The present study was designed to characterize in vitro tumor growth regulation by TGF-beta1 in MM. Sorted CD38+CD45RA- MM cells secreted significantly more TGF- beta1 (8.2 +/- 2.0 ng/mL) than peripheral blood mononuclear cells (P < .001), splenic B cells (P < .001), and CD40 ligand (CD40L) pretreated B cells (P < .05). TGF-beta1 secretion by MM-BMMCs (3.8 +/- 0.9 ng/mL) was significantly greater than by N-BMMCs (1.2 +/- 0.1 ng/mL, P < .001). MM-BMSCs also secreted significantly more TGF-beta1 (6.6 +/- 2.5 ng/mL, n = 11) than N-BMSCs (4.4 +/- 0.6 ng/mL, P < .02, n = 10) and N- BMSC lines (3.9 +/- 0.2 ng/mL, P < .02, n = 6). TGF-beta1 secretion was correlated with IL-6 secretion in MM-BMSCs. Anti-TGF-beta1 monoclonal antibody both blocked IL-6 secretion by BMSCs and inhibited the increments in IL-6 secretion by BMSCs induced by MM cell adhesion. Moreover, exogenous TGF-beta1 upregulated IL-6 secretion by MM-BMSCs, normal BMSCs, and CD38+ CD45RA- MM cells, as well as tumor cell proliferation. This is in contrast to the inhibitory effect of TGF- beta1 on proliferation and Ig secretion of normal splenic B cells. Finally, retinoblastoma proteins (pRB) are constitutively phosphorylated in MM cells; TGF-beta1 either did not alter or increased pRB phosphorylation. pRB are dephosphorylated in splenic B cells and phosphorylated in CD40L triggered B cells in contrast to its effects on MM cells, TGF-beta1 decreased phosphorylation of pRB in CD40L treated B cells. These results suggest that TGF-beta1 is produced in MM by both tumor cells and BMSCs, with related tumore cell growth. Moreover, MM cell growth may be enhanced by resistance of tumor cells to the inhibitory effects of TGF-beta1 on normal B-cell proliferation and Ig secretion.