Colonic growth factors (CGFs) were extracted from porcine intestinal epithelium and mucosa. Under acidic conditions, very little mitogenic activity (as assayed using murine 3T3 fibroblasts and a human colonic cell line) was extractable. However, by extracting at neutral or slightly alkaline pH, significant mitogenic activity for both the murine fibroblasts and human colonic carcinoma cell line could be detected. CGFs are present throughout the intestine and cecum. The epithelial mucosa of the distal colorectal region appeared to contain mitogens which were more potent for the colonic cells than the 3T3 fibroblasts. Purification of CGFs from the colonic mucosa required removal of associated mucin by pH precipitation prior to chromatographic fractionation. It was then possible to develop a complete purification (390,000-fold) scheme for the major CGF, an 18-kDa protein which bound to heparin-Sepharose. N-terminal sequence analysis yielded a single sequence (Q)SPGGAMAAGSITTLPALP, i.e. an N-terminally extended form of basic fibroblast growth factor. Apart from the substitution of Gly in bovine basic fibroblast growth factor by a Ser in porcine CGF, the proteins are identical. A similar extraction procedure using purified human colonic crypt epithelial cells yielded a mitogen for the human colonic cell line with similar chromatographic properties.