Previous studies have shown that 2-chloro-2′-deoxyadenosine (CdA) is markedly toxic to normal and malignant human lymphocytes in vitro and in vivo. Recent clinical trials have shown that CdA is a very promising drug for the treatment of lymphoid malignancies. The present investigations were designed to test the effect of CdA on the in vitro clonal growth of both myeloid progenitors and T-lymphocyte colony- forming cells (CFU-TL) obtained from normal human bone marrow and peripheral blood. Cells were exposed to CdA in doses up to 1280 nmol/L. To reduce indirect effects of CdA mediated by accessory cells, monocyte- and T-lymphocyte-depleted bone marrow cells were used for our investigations. The results show a marked inhibition of myeloid progenitor and lymphocyte colony-forming cells in a dose-dependent manner, correlating with maturation stage in that the immature progenitor cells are more sensitive to this drug. Furthermore, our studies suggest that a sequence of metabolic events previously described for lymphocytes may be operative in myeloid progenitor cells because a minimal exposure time of 48 hours is required to obtain a marked inhibition. CdA toxicity was proposed to be linked with phosphorylation by deoxycytidine-kinase (E.C. 126.96.36.199), the levels of which have been found to be high in lymphocytes, but low in granulocytes. However, the marked inhibition of myeloid progenitor cells shown in these studies suggests that other factors such as modulation of the effect of CdA by the ambient levels of other deoxynucleosides might influence the apparent sensitivity of myeloid cells.