The effect of recombinant human interleukin-4 (IL-4) on a granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-dependent human myeloblastic leukemic cell line, OCI-AML1a, was investigated. IL-4 suppressed the clonogenic cell growth in methylcellulose culture, inhibited the uptake of 3H thymidine in a dose-dependent manner at 5 to 100 U/mL, and consequently suppressed the growth of clonogenic cells in short- and long-term suspension cultures. In addition, IL-4 markedly increased the number of adherent cells. These adherent cells were alpha-naphthyl-butyrate (alpha-NB) esterase-positive and showed macrophage-like appearance, increased expression of CD14, CD11b, CD23, and Ia, and significantly decreased clonogenicity. On the other hand, nonadherent cells growing in suspension showed only slight increase in proportion of alpha-NB esterase-positive or monocyte/macrophage-like cells and increased CD23 expression by an addition of IL-4. The clonogenicity of the nonadherent cells was not significantly influenced by IL-4. By addition of the media conditioned by OCI-AML1a cells in the presence of IL-4, the clonogenic cells growth of OCIAML1a cells was suppressed and adherent cells were markedly increased. The suppressive and differentiative effects on OCI/AML1a cells of the conditioned media and IL-4 itself were almost completely abolished by anti-IL-4 antibody. Furthermore, the neutralizing antibodies against transforming growth factor-beta 2 (TGF-beta 2), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), or IL-6 did not influence the effect of recombinant IL-4. Taken together, IL-4 was shown to suppress the growth and induce differentiation toward adherent macrophage-like cells of the G-CSF-dependent myeloblastic cell line. The effect of IL-4 may be direct, and not secondary via inducing production of other cytokines such as TGF-beta, TNF-alpha, or IL-6 by leukemic cells.