Mechanical strain reportedly stimulates the synthesis of collagen in vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs). The present study was designed to investigate a possible involvement of angiotensin II (Ang II) and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β in stretch-induced collagen synthesis of cultured SMCs derived from the rabbit aortic media. SMCs were cyclically stretched at a rate of 10% elongation and 30 cycles/min for 24 h using the Flexercell<sup>®</sup> strain unit (Flexcell International Corp., McKeesport, Pa.). A two-fold increase in collagen synthesis and a concurrent increase in total protein synthesis were noted in stretched SMCs. Concentration of immunoreactive Ang II in the conditioned medium was elevated under the mechanical strain. Stretch-induced collagen and total protein synthesis were inhibited by either a selective antagonist to Ang II (saralasin), an angiotensin I-converting enzyme inhibitor (captopril) or an antisense oligonucleotide for angiotensinogen mRNA. An elevated secretion of TGF-β, both active and latent forms, was found in the medium of stretched SMCs. Saralasin inhibited the stretch-induced secretion of TGF-β from SMCs. Stretch-induced collagen and total protein synthesis was further inhibited by either an anti-TGF-β1 neutralizing antibody or an adenovirus-mediated transfer of a truncated TGF-β type II receptor. Elevated expression of collagen α1(III) chain and TGF-β1 mRNAs, and its reversal by saralasin were also demonstrated in stretched SMCs. Results indicate that the stretch-induced collagen and total protein synthesis appears to be mediated via an autocrine-paracrine mechanism of Ang II and TGF-β released from SMCs.