Severe congenital neutropenia (SCN) is a disorder of myelopoiesis characterized by severe neutropenia secondary to a maturational arrest at the level of promyelocytes. We treated five patients with SCN with recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rhGM-CSF) for 42 days and subsequently, between 1 and 3 months later, with rhG-CSF for 142 days. The objective was to evaluate the safety and ability of these factors to elicit a neutrophil response. rhGM-CSF was administered at a dose of 3 to 30 micrograms/kg/d (30 to 60 minutes, intravenously). In all patients, a specific, dose-dependent increase in the absolute granulocyte counts was observed. However, in four patients this increase was due to an increase in eosinophils, and in only one patient it was due to an increase in the absolute neutrophil counts (ANC). Subsequently, all patients received rhG-CSF at a dose of 3 to 15 micrograms/kg/d subcutaneously. In contrast to rhGM-CSF treatment, all five patients responded to rhG-CSF during the first 6 weeks of treatment with an increase in the ANC to above 1,000/microL. The level of ANC could be maintained during maintenance treatment. In one patient, the increase in ANC was associated with an improvement of a severe pneumonitis caused by Peptostreptococcus and resistant to antibiotic treatment. No severe bacterial infections occurred in any of the patients during CSF treatment. All patients tolerated rhGM-CSF and rhG-CSF treatment without severe side effects. These results demonstrate the beneficial effect of rhG-CSF in SCN patients.