Stem cell factor (SCF) is the ligand for the receptor encoded by the c- kit proto-oncogene. Mutations of either c-kit or the SCF gene are responsible for the defects of W and SI mutant mice, which both suffer a macrocytic anemia, the former associated with defective stem cells and the latter with a defective hematopoietic microenvironment. PEGylated recombinant rat SCF was administered to normal or splenectomized mice for up to 21 days. SCF was found to be a modest stimulator of peripheral blood neutrophil numbers in both groups of animals. The peak in neutrophil numbers was higher and occurred earlier in splenectomized mice. Bone marrow and spleen cellularity changed little during treatment but the content of interleukin-3-responsive progenitor cells and spleen colony-forming cells (CFU-S) reached very high levels, particularly in the spleen. Using recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (rhG-CSF), we have shown that SCF induces a greater than additive increase in both blood neutrophils and blood-borne CFU-S. This synergy was seen throughout the dose range and may indicate a clinical role for SCF either alone or in augmenting the activity of G-CSF upon blood neutrophils and transplantable stem cells.