Proliferation of the hamster ductus deferens cloned tumor cell line (DDT1MF-2) in monolayer culture is markedly stimulated by androgens in a dose dependent fashion. Furthermore, growth on collagen confers upon these cells a greater dependence on this class of hormones, such that testosterone (10 nM) induces a 15-fold elevation in cell number compared to controls. Addition of either dexamethasone (10 nM) or triamcinolone acetonide (TA; 10 nM) dramatically blocks this stimulation by reversibly arresting the cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle as assessed by flow cell cytometry. Associated with the decreased growth rate is a change from a rounded to a more flattened morphology that may also implicate cell shape in the regulation of proliferation. These steroid effects presumably are mediated through specific receptor proteins for which dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and TA bind with equilibrium dissociation constants (Kd) of 0.3 and 1.0 nM, respectively. Moreover, not only do androgens increase growth rate but treatment with 1 nM [3H]DHT also results in an elevation in androgen receptor concentration from 1.6 to 3.6 f mol/micrograms DNA in 7 h. Simultaneous treatment with 10 nM TA, however, reduces this increase by 53%. Inasmuch as neither progesterone nor estradiol-17 beta display similar inhibitory activity, this effect also seems to be glucocorticoid specific. These observations may be important in elucidating the mechanism of androgen action and should provide some insight into the role of glucocorticoids in regulating the growth of androgen dependent tissues.