Lithium has been recognized as a stimulator of granulopoiesis both in vivo and in vitro. The mechanism by which lithium provokes this stimulation is unclear, with previous data focusing on such divergent causes as direct effects on progenitor cells v elevations in granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating activity (GM-CSA) production. In the present study, we used a model system of granulopoiesis in diffusion chambers to study this stimulation of granulopoiesis. Lithium pretreatment of mice followed by a rest period to allow for excretion of the lithium (confirmed by serum assays) revealed a stimulation of progenitor cell growth within the diffusion chambers. No changes in the serum and chamber fluid GM-CSA levels were discernible between the control host mice and the lithium-pretreated mice. These data indicate that lithium stimulates granulopoiesis by an indirect mechanism that does not appear to involve GM-CSA.