Myeloid progenitor cells (colony- and cluster-forming cells in semisolid medium, CFU-GM) were purified from the peripheral blood of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) patients. Lymphocytes, monocytes, and most immature myeloid cells were simultaneously depleted with specific monoclonal antibodies using an erythrocyte rosette technique for cell separation. Cells expressing Ia-like antigen were then selected from the residual cell population. Day 7 CFU-GM were enriched 44--116-fold in the IA+ cell fraction, when compared to the unseparated cells, and up to 47% of the cells could form a myeloid colony or cluster in culture. This cell fraction contained up to 92% undifferentiated blasts, with the remainder mostly promyelocytes. The enriched CFU-GM cells were dependent on an exogenous supply of colony- stimulating factor for growth, and colony formation was linear with cell concentration over a large range (10(4)-10(1) cells/ml). This technique of rosette depletion and enrichment with specific monoclonal antibodies provides a unique method for purifying a homogenous population of myeloid precursor cells with defined surface antigen characteristics.