Feline parvovirus (FPV) causes leukopenia in naturally infected cats. We investigated the mechanism of hematopoietic depression by this virus in feline bone marrow cultured in vitro. In suspension cultures we demonstrated FPV propagation and replication using DNA molecular hybridization. Viral RNA and DNA were observed by in situ hybridization in about 10% of marrow cells at day 3. Granulocytes and their precursors were virtually absent from infected cultures after six days. Infected cells showed viral capsid protein predominantly in nuclei by immunofluorescence. In clonal assays, FPV most efficiently inhibited hematopoietic colony formation by myeloid progenitor cells (CFU-GM), but erythroid colony formation (BFU-E and CFU-E-derived) was also depressed in the presence of virus. Inhibition of colony formation could be abrogated by physical inactivation of the virus or preincubation with specific neutralizing antibodies. Recombinant human colony stimulating factors GM-CSF and G-CSF supported feline myelopoiesis in progenitor assays, and FPV completely inhibited factor dependent colony formation.