It has recently been shown that chondrocytes are able to develop in culture retaining specific phenotipic characteristics. Consequently, chondrocyte cultures have been used for the " in vitro " study of biochemical characterististics of cartilage ( Björnsson et al. 1981; Desau et al. 1981; Harmand et al. 1982; Schindler et al. 1976 ) and factors involved in cartilage metabolism ( Corvol et al. 1978; Guenther et al. 1982; Klagsbrun et al. 1977; Shen et al. 1985 ). Chondrocytes from normal and pathologic human and animal cartilage have been cultured.
Skeletal growth is particularly significant during human fetal development. The role of epiphyseal cartilage in promoting skeletal growth has been recognized since the endochondral clacification process was first described. However, little is known of the biochemical characteristics of human fetal epiphyseal cartilage and factors involved in its metabolism, since methodological limitations constitute the major problem. Thus, we have cultured human fetal epiphyseal chondrocytes in an attempt to