A large-scale assay was performed by transfecting 29,910 individual cDNA clones derived from human placenta, fetus, and normal liver tissues into human hepatoma cells and 22,926 cDNA clones into mouse NIH 3T3 cells. Based on the results of colony formation in hepatoma cells and foci formation in NIH 3T3 cells, 3,806 cDNA species (8,237 clones) were found to possess the ability of either stimulating or inhibiting cell growth. Among them, 2,836 (6,958 clones) were known genes, 372 (384 clones) were previously unrecognized genes, and 598 (895 clones) were unigenes of uncharacterized structure and function. A comprehensive analysis of the genes and the potential mechanisms for their involvement in the regulation of cell growth is provided. The genes were classified into four categories: I, genes related to the basic cellular mechanism for growth and survival; II, genes related to the cellular microenvironment; III, genes related to host-cell systemic regulation; and IV, genes of miscellaneous function. The extensive growth-regulatory activity of genes with such highly diversified functions suggests that cancer may be related to multiple levels of cellular and systemic controls. The present assay provides a direct genomewide functional screening method. It offers a better understanding of the basic machinery of oncogenesis, including previously undescribed systemic regulatory mechanisms, and also provides a tool for gene discovery with potential clinical applications.