Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) has potent antiproliferative effects on human hematopoietic progenitor cells. We report here that TGF-beta 1 and -beta 2 also exert bimodal dose-dependent stimulation of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF) and granulocyte- CSF-induced day 7 granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming units. This increase in colony formation was restricted to low doses (0.01 to 1.0 ng/mL) of TGF-beta 1 and was due to increased granulopoiesis, showing that TGF-beta can affect the differentiation as well as the proliferation of hematopoietic progenitors. Furthermore, TGF-beta 3 was found to be a more potent inhibitor of hematopoietic progenitor cells than TGF-beta 1 and -beta 2. In contrast to the bidirectional proliferative effects of TGF-beta 1 and -beta 2, the effects of TGF- beta 3 on human hematopoiesis were only inhibitory, showing for the first time that TGF-beta isoforms differ not only in potencies but also with regard to the nature of the response they elicit.