We investigated the effects of recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rhGM-CSF) and recombinant human granulocyte- CSF (rhG-CSF) on the generation of natural killer (NK) cells in vitro. NK cells were cultured from selected human bone marrow cells obtained after the elimination of mature T and NK cells. rhGM-CSF significantly suppressed the generation of CD56+ cells and NK activity (P less than .01) in a dose-dependent manner. The generation of large granular lymphocytes (LGL) was also suppressed in the presence of rhGM-CSF (P less than .01). In contrast, rhG-CSF had no effect on LGL (P greater than .05). Both rhGM-CSF and rhG-CSF had no influence on the CD56+ cell count in the peripheral blood. These results suggest that rhGM-CSF suppresses the in vitro generation of NK cells.