A synergistic factor that is produced by the human bladder carcinoma cell line 5637 (SF-1) stimulates primitive bone marrow progenitor cells, termed high proliferative-potential colony-forming cells (HPP- CFC), in the presence of an optimal dose of macrophage colony stimulating factor (CSF-1). Recent reports have demonstrated that interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1) is identical to hemopoietin 1 and have suggested that IL-1 is the synergistic factor present in 5637 conditioned medium (cm). We have compared the ability of recombinant human IL-1 alpha and partially purified preparations of SF-1 to synergize with optimal doses of CSF-1 to stimulate HPP-CFC. In all experiments performed the numbers of HPP-CFC colonies formed with IL-1 were significantly less than with SF-1. Replating experiments demonstrated that SF-1 plus CSF-1 generated HPP-CFC (responsive to IL-3 plus CSF-1); however, IL-1 plus CSF-1 resulted in no generation of HPP- CFC. Multiple factor combinations of IL-1 and SF-1 with G-CSF, GM-CSF, and CSF-1 also resulted in less HPP-CFC colony formation in cultures containing IL-1 compared with SF-1. Incubation of SF-1 with an antibody to IL-6 had no effect on HPP-CFC colony formation and IL-6 did not synergize with IL-1 plus CSF-1 or SF-1 plus CSF-1. These data suggest the presence of a factor in 5637 cm, which is distinct from G-CSF, GM- CSF, and IL-6, which synergizes with IL-1 to produce the SF-1 effect.