Human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) stimulates the colony growth of myeloid progenitors in semisolid media, and enhances the function of mature effector cells, including neutrophils, monocytes, and eosinophils. Small cell carcinoma lines (SCCL) have properties of amine precursor uptake and decarboxylation (APUD) cells and express high levels of the enzyme, L-aromatic amino acid decarboxylase. We looked for possible expression of GM-CSF receptors on nonhematopoietic cells and found specific high-affinity binding of human GM-CSF to SCCL and to the SV40-transformed African green monkey kidney cell line, COS. The small cell carcinoma lines responded to GM-CSF with enhanced proliferation, and both small cells and COS cells were found to express authentic 84,000 dalton GM-CSF receptor protein. These findings indicate that nonhematopoietic cells can bind and respond to GM-CSF, suggesting additional biological activities as well as the possibility of tumor responses when GM-CSF is used therapeutically in humans. Since preliminary clinical trials using CSFs as adjunctive treatment in patients with solid tumors are underway, it will be important to consider the possible responsiveness of nonhematopoietic tumor cells to CSFs.