To improve the grafting efficiency of transplanted murine hematopoietic progenitors, we briefly preincubated mouse bone marrow cells with interleukin-3 (IL-3) or granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) ex vivo before their transplantation into irradiated recipients. This treatment was translated into an increase in the seeding efficiency of colony-forming unit-spleen (CFU-S) and CFU-GM after transplantation. Not only was the concentration of CFU-S in the tibia increased 2 and 24 hours after transplantation, but the total cell number and CFU-S and CFU-GM concentrations were persistently higher in IL-3- and GM-CSF-treated groups 1 to 3 weeks after transplantation. In addition, the survival of animals as a function of transplanted cell number was persistently higher in IL-3- and GM-CSF- treated groups compared with controls. The data indicate that the pretreatment of marrow cells with IL-3 and GM-CSF before transplantation increases the seeding efficiency of hematopoietic stem cells and probably other progenitor cells after transplantation. This increased efficiency may be mediated by upward modulation of homing receptors. Therefore, ex vivo preincubation of donor marrow cells with IL-3 and GM-CSF may be a useful tactic in bone marrow transplantation.