Insulin-like growth factor I is an important mitogen for vascular smooth muscle cells, and its effects are regulated by several binding proteins. Western ligand blotting of conditioned medium from rat aortic smooth muscle cells detected a 24 kDa binding protein and a 28 kDa glycosylated variant of this protein, consistent with insulin-like growth factor binding protein-4 by size. Low amounts of a glycosylated 38 to 42 kDa doublet (consistent with binding protein-3) and a 31 kDa non-glycosylated protein also were present. Basic fibroblast growth factor markedly increased secretion of the 24 kDa binding protein and its 28 kDa glycosylated variant. This effect was dose- and time-dependent and was inhibited by co-incubation with cycloheximide. Crosslinking of[125I]-insulin-like growth factor I to cell monolayers revealed no surface-associated binding proteins, either basally or after agonist treatment. Induction of binding protein production by fibroblast growth factor at sites of vascular injury may be important in vascular proliferative responses in vivo.