Sericin, a constituent of the silkworm cocoon, was added to the culture of four mammalian cell lines: murine hybridoma 2E3-O,human hepatoblastoma HepG2, human epithelial HeLa and human embryonal kidney 293 cells. The proliferation of all cell lineswas accelerated in the presence of sericin. The hybridoma cellline was further studied. The 2E3-O cell line was so well adapted to serum-free medium that both the proliferation rate and maximum cell density in serum-free ASF103 medium were higher than in RPMI medium supplemented with all lots of FBS tested, and this proliferation was stimulated by the addition of sericin in a dose-dependent manner. Stimulation was observed at sericin concentrations from 0.01 to 0.1 %, although 1% sericin was severely harmful to the culture. In comparison with bovine serum albumin (BSA), a widely used supplement in serum-free medium, sericin had an equivalent effect on the proliferation of the hybridomas and sericin additively stimulated the proliferation with BSA. Although heat easily denatures and inactivates most proteins, the activity of sericin was not affected by autoclaving. In a similar manner to the silkworm-derived sericin, recombinant sericin synthesized in E. coli also stimulated the hybridoma proliferation, irrespective of whether it was autoclaved or filtered. Since BSA is obtained from bovine serum and the risk of infections such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy cannot be eradicated, sericin derived from insects could be a preferable culture medium supplement for stimulating the proliferation of mammalian cells.