Perichondrium/periosteum is involved in regulating long bone growth. Long bones grow faster after removal or circumferential division of periosteum. This can be countered by culturing them in conditioned medium from perichondrium/periosteum cells. Because both complete removal and circumferential division are effective, we hypothesized that perichondrium/periosteum cells require an intact environment to release the appropriate soluble factors. More specifically, we propose that this release depends on their ability to generate intracellular tension. This hypothesis was explored by modulating the ability of perichondrium/periosteum cells to generate intracellular tension and monitoring the effect thereof on long bone growth. Perichondrium/periosteum cells were cultured on substrates with different stiffness. The medium produced by these cultures was added to embryonic chick tibiotarsi from which perichondrium/periosteum was either stripped or left intact. After 3 culture days, long bone growth was proportionally related to the stiffness of the substrate on which perichondrium/periosteum cells were grown while they produced conditioned medium. A second set of experiments demonstrated that the effect occurred through expression of a growth-inhibiting factor, rather than through the reduction of a stimulatory factor. Finally, evidence for the importance of intracellular tension was obtained by showing that the inhibitory effect was abolished when perichondrium/periosteum cells were treated with cytochalasin D, which disrupts the actin microfilaments. Thus, we concluded that modulation of long bone growth occurs through release of soluble inhibitors by perichondrium/periosteum cells, and that the ability of cells to develop intracellular tension through their actin microfilaments is at the base of this mechano-regulated control pathway.