Increased extracellular concentrations of uridine (Urd) have been reported to reduce, in vitro, azidothymidine (AZT)-induced inhibition of human granulocyte-macrophage progenitor cells without impairment of its antihuman immunodeficiency virus (HIV) activity. Because of the clinical toxicities associated with chronic Urd administration, the ability of benzylacyclouridine (BAU) to effect, in vivo, AZT-induced anemia and leukopenia was assessed. This agent inhibits Urd catabolism and, in vivo, increases the plasma concentration of Urd in a dose- dependent manner, without Urd-related toxicity. In mice rendered anemic and leukopenic by the administration of AZT for 28 days in drinking water (1.5 mg/mL), the continued administration of AZT plus daily BAU (300 mg/kg, orally) partially reversed AZT-induced anemia and leukopenia (P less than .05), increased peripheral reticulocytes (to 4.9%, P less than .01), increased cellularity in the marrow, and improved megaloblastosis. When coadministered with AZT from the onset of drug administration, BAU reduced AZT-induced marrow toxicity. In vitro, at a concentration of 100 mumol/L, BAU possesses minimal anti- HIV activity and has no effect on the ability of AZT to reverse the HIV- induced cytopathic effect in MT4 cells. The clinical and biochemical implications of these findings are discussed.