The role of the ras oncogene in the signalling pathway triggered by platelet-derived growth factor BB (PDGF-BB) has been investigated in a cell line which normally differentiates into myotubes. Following the activation of the N-ras oncogene, however, the cells proliferate and form foci. PDGF-BB stimulated the phosphorylation of tyrosine in several cellular proteins of molecular weight 185, 160, 94, 54, 44, 42 kDa and furthermore Ca2+ was released from internal stores. Activation of the N-ras gene by treatment of cells with dexamethasone (DEX) inhibited these responses to PDGF-BB. On the other hand, both ras-induced and -non induced cells responded to bradykinin (BK), foetal calf serum (FCS) and ionomycin (ION) by releasing Ca2+ from intracellular stores. The inhibition of the response to PDGF-BB in ras-activated cells has been further investigated. The binding of [125I]-PDGF-BB to its receptors was low and western blotting showed a low level of PDGF-BB receptor protein. This was in marked contrast to the receptor number seen in cells grown in growth medium or fusion promoting medium. These results indicate that cells transformed with the N-ras oncogene fail to respond to platelet-derived growth factor and exhibit a very low level of PDGF receptors. This suggests a role for the ras oncogene in the earliest steps of the signalling pathway. © 1995.