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Morphogenesis is underpinned by orientated cell division, motility and growth. The substratum for migrating cells in vivo comprises either extracellular matrix or the surfaces of adjacent cells and both are believed to inform the dynamic behaviour of adherent cells through contact guidance. Collisions between migrating cells in vitro can induce the phenomena of contact inhibition of locomotion and division, suggesting that their sensitivity to substratum-derived cues may also be influenced by population density. In the present study dermal fibroblasts, which are known to be motile in culture and are fundamental to the organization of the extracellular matrix, were used to examine the influence of population pressure on the ability of substratum topography to induce contact guidance. The findings suggest that sensitivity to substratum-derived morphogenetic guidance cues, as revealed by alignment of cells to microtopography, is modulated by population pressure.