Somatostatin effects on cultured human fetal epiphyseal chondrocytes were evaluated by studying the effects of somatostatin on DNA synthesis. Cultured epiphyseal chondrocytes from human fetuses (12-40 wk old) were incubated for 48 h in Ham’s F-12 serum-free medium. After this, the medium was replaced by MCDB-104 serum-free medium and the cells were incubated for an additional 48 h in the presence or absence of somatostatin 1 nM to 10 µM, with the addition of3H-thymidine (5 µCi/mL) for the last 24 h of incubation. A significant (p < 0.02) inhibitory effect of somatostatin (1 µM to 10 µM) on3H-thymidine DNA incorporation was observed in cultured chondrocytes from fetuses of all gestational ages studied (12-40 wk), with no significant differences among fetal ages. In conclusion, our results show that somatostatin exerts a biologic effect on cultured human fetal epiphyseal chondrocytes, as it does in its target cells. These results suggest that somatostatin could regulate human skeletal growth not only by growth hormone secretion regulation, but also by acting directly on chondrocyte metabolism. However, the physiologic significance of the latter remains to be elucidated. © 1992 International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.