The alternative splicing of platelet-derived growth factor A-chain is known to result in 2 different protein products. One variant is encoded by transcripts containing the 69 nts representing exon 6 (PDGF-AAL), and one variant is encoded by transcripts in which exon 6 is excluded (PDGF-AAs). Transfection assays have suggested that the long splice variant of the A-chain is mainly associated with membrane- and matrix-associated heparan sulphate proteoglycans, whereas the shorter variant is soluble. We describe a human sarcoma cell line (U-2197) that expresses a high level of PDGF-A transcripts. Immunoprecipitations revealed cell-associated protein products of mainly 24, 28 and 33 kDa and less abundant forms of 4—45 kDa, while no PDGF was found in the medium. Analysis of extracellular medium in a radioreceptor assay confirmed that PDGF was not secreted by the U-2 197 cells. The addition to U-2 197 cultures of a carboxy terminal peptide that specifically competes with the binding of the long splice variant of PDGF-AA to extracellular matrix and cell membranes resulted in the release of 3 PDGF-AA-specific dimeric proteins with molecular masses of 33, 37 and 45 kDa. Furthermore, polymerase chain reaction studies discriminating between the long and the short splice variants of the PDGF-A transcripts revealed that U-2197 expressed relatively higher amounts of the long splice variant compared with U-343 MGa C1 2:6, which is known to secrete PDGF-AA. These cell-associated forms of PDGF, released to the medium by adding carboxy terminal peptide, increased the tyrosine kinase activity of the endogenous PDGF α-receptor. © 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.