Human peripheral blood granulocytes, but not lymphocytes, erythrocytes, or monocytes, bound the fucose-binding lectin from Lotus tetragonolobus (FBP), and this binding was competitively inhibited by the sugar alpha- L-fucose. The fluorescence-activated cell sorter was used to study the appearance of this receptor on human marrow cells during granulocyte differentiation and to prepare fractions enriched for granulocyte- macrophage progenitor cells (granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming cells--GM-CFC). Cell binding of fluoresceinated FBP increased for bone marrow cells in the sequence--lymphocytes, blast cells, promyelocytes and myelocytes, monocytes, and polymorphonuclear cells. Selection of cells with appropriate low-angle or high-angle light scatter characteristics achieved a 10-fold or 2–3-fold enrichment of progenitor cells, respectively. By selecting cells with intermediate fluorescence intensity, a further 2–3-fold enrichment for GM-CFC was obtained. Cell sorting using the optimal selection of these three parameters produced up to 36-fold enrichment of the progenitor cells from human bone marrow. The most enriched fraction was composed of 23% progenitor cells (colony- and cluster-forming cells) with a yield of 36%. In populations most highly enriched by GM-CFC, immature cells (blast cells, promyelocytes, and myelocytes) made up 95% of the cells present.