Myelosuppression is a major symptom in the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Moreover zidovudine, an anti-retroviral drug used to treat AIDS patients has myelosuppressive side effects. Therefore treatment with IL-3, a multi-lineage hemopoietic growth factor may be beneficial for zidovudine-treated individuals. In this study we examined the effect of IL-3 on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) expression. The proliferative response to rIL-3 and the effects on the replication of the monocytotropic HIV variant, HTLV-III Ba-L, in the absence or presence of the anti-retroviral drug zidovudine was studied in purified human peripheral blood monocytes. Zidovudine concentrations sufficient for complete inhibition of HIV replication did not affect rIL-3 induced monocyte proliferation. Although rIL-3, like rGM-CSF, was able to augment HIV expression in monocytes, it did not interfere with the anti-retroviral activity of zidovudine. These data indicate that rIL-3 is a potential candidate for use in myelosupportive therapy in AIDS patients treated with anti-retroviral drugs.