A population of macrophage progenitor cells, with high proliferative potential, has recently been demonstrated in postfluorouracil-treated and normal mouse bone marrow (BM) in vitro, when the newly discovered growth factor (synergistic activity, SA) is combined with a macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF) as a proliferative stimulus. SA, shown to be present in human spleen and placental conditioned media (HSCM and HPCM, respectively) have been studied and found to be unstable to trypsin digestion and to heating at 50 degrees C or above; stable between pH 4 and 9; nonadherent to Con-A-Sepharose; and to have an isoelectric point between pH 5 and 5.8 and a molecular weight of between 14,000 and 21,000 as indicated by gel filtration chromatography. SAs from both HSCM and HPCM have been purified 89- and 122-fold, respectively, by precipitation of extraneous proteins at pH 5 followed by chromatographing twice on Sephacryl S200. Neither of these partially purified SAs contain any CSF for mouse BM. These results indicate that the SAs from HSCM and HPCM may be closely related and that they are structurally different from CSFs derived from various murine sources that have been shown to be stable to proteolytic enzymes and heat.