The effect of 2.5S nerve growth factor (NGF) on survival, phagocytosis, and superoxide production of murine neutrophils was examined and compared with the effects of interleukin-3 (IL-3) and recombinant GM colony-stimulating factor (rGM-CSF). NGF enhanced the viability of neutrophils isolated from peripheral blood and peritoneal cavity in a dose-dependent way. IL-3 50 U/mL had no effect. rGM-CSF 50 U/mL had an effect similar to that of 50 ng/mL NGF. NGF also enhanced the phagocytosis of hydrophilic microspheres by peritoneal neutrophils, and the activity of NGF was greater than that of IL-3 or rGM-CSF. NGF enhanced the superoxide production induced by phorbol 12-myristate 13- acetate (PMA), which acts at postreceptor sites, and that induced by opsonized zymosan, a receptor-mediated ligand. The stimulating activity of NGF was largely comparable to that of rGM-CSF. The present data show that NGF bound to neutrophils enhances their survival, phagocytosis, and superoxide production. Thus, we postulate that NGF plays an important role in the inflammatory processes.