The mechanism underlying phenytoin (PHT)-induced gingival enlargement (GE) is not yet known. The aim of the present study was to investigate transforming growth factor-1 (TGF-beta1), platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) profiles in the gingival crevice fluid (GCF) of patients with PHT-induced GE and to compare the results with healthy controls. Five PHT-treated patients and five healthy subjects with normal periodontal. tissue were included in this study. GCF samples were collected from (i) enlarged gingival. sites in patients receiving PHT (GE+); (ii) non-enlarged gingival sites in the same patients (GE-); (iii) normal gingival sites of healthy subjects (control). The levels of TGF-beta1, PDGF-BB and bFGF in the GCF samples were analysed by ELISA. The results showed that the total amounts of TGF-beta1 and PDGF-BB in the GE+ group were higher than in the GE- group and significantly higher than in the control group (P < 0.05). However, no significant differences were found between the groups when the concentrations of these growth factors were compared. bFGF levels were not compared as this growth factor could be detected in only 33, 41 and 44% of the GE+, GE- and control GCF samples, respectively. These results show that TGF-beta1 and PDGF-BB are readily detectable in GCF obtained from enlarged and non-enlarged sites of PHT recipients and suggest that since the amounts were markedly higher at the GE+ than the GE- sites, the systemic administration of PHT has a pronounced localised effect on the levels of these growth factors. Moreover, our findings provide evidence that both TGF-beta1 and PDGF-BB are closely associated with the clinical manifestation of PHT-induced GE. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.