Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) influence placental cell (cytotrophoblast) kinetics. We recently reported that the protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) SHP-2 positively regulates IGF actions in the placenta. In other systems, the closely related PTP, SHP-1, functions as a negative regulator of signaling events but its role in the placenta is still unknown. We examined the hypothesis that SHP-1 negatively regulates IGF actions in the human placenta. Immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis demonstrated that SHP-1 is abundant in cytotrophoblast. SHP-1 expression was decreased in first-trimester placental explants using siRNA; knockdown did not alter IGFinduced proliferation but it significantly enhanced proliferation in serum-free conditions, revealing that placental growth is endogenously regulated. Candidate regulators were determined by using antibody arrays, Western blotting, and IHC to examine the activation status of multiple receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in SHP-1-depleted explants; amongst the alterations observed was enhanced activation of EGFR, suggesting that SHP-1 may interact with EGFR to inhibit proliferation. The EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor PD153035 reversed the elevated proliferation seen in the absence of SHP-1. This study demonstrates a role for SHP-1 in human trophoblast turnover and establishes SHP-1 as a negative regulator of EGFR activation. Targeting placental SHP-1 expression may provide therapeutic benefits in common pregnancy conditions with abnormal trophoblast proliferation. © Springer Basel AG 2012.