Mice fed a chemically defined diet devoid of pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) grew poorly, failed to reproduce, and became osteolathyritic. Moreover, severely affected mice had friable skin, skin collagen that was readily extractable into neutral salt solutions, and decreased lysyl oxidase. The identification of functional defects in connective tissue and the growth retardation associated with PQQ deprivation suggest that PQQ plays a fundamental role as a growth factor or vitamin.