Regulation of the subcellular localization of certain proteins is a mechanism for the regulation of their biological activities. FGF-2 can be produced as distinct isoforms by alternative initiation of translation on a single mRNA and the isoforms are differently sorted in cells. High molecular weight FGF-2 isoforms are not secreted from the cell, but are transported to the nucleus where they regulate cell growth or behavior in an intracrine fashion. 18 kDa FGF-2 can be secreted to the extracellular medium where it acts as a conventional growth factor by binding to and activation of cell-surface receptors. Furthermore, following receptor-mediated endocytosis, the exogenous FGF-2 can be transported to the nuclei of target cells, and this is of importance for the transmittance of a mitogenic signal. The growth factor is able to interact with several intracellular proteins. Here, the mode of action and biological role of intracellular FGF-2 are discussed.BioEssays28:504-514, 2006. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.