Chemotherapy has been used clinically to mobilize hematopoietic progenitor cells into the peripheral blood so that they can be harvested for autologous transplantation. In humans, this is demonstrated by the presence of circulating granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming cells (CFU-GM) and CD34-positive cells, but it has not been possible to confirm the presence of marrow-repopulating stem cells. In this study, we treated mice with 200 mg/kg cyclophosphamide (CY) and measured the numbers of white blood cells, day 12 CFU-S (CFU- S12), and CFU-GM in the peripheral blood. There was a peak in the numbers of CFU-S12 and CFU-GM 8 days after treatment with cyclophosphamide. Peripheral blood cells taken at this time rescued lethally irradiated mice and engraftment of donor cells was confirmed after 140 days in sex mismatched recipients using a Y chromosome- specific probe. In vitro culture of the blood cells harvested after cyclophosphamide showed that they proliferated in suspension cultures for at least a year in the presence of interleukin-3. The cultured cells rapidly lost their abilities to rescue irradiated mice and to form colonies in vitro, but they did not become leukemic. Also, CY- treated mice were irradiated with a leukemogenic dose of x-rays to coincide with peak circulating cell numbers but these animals did not develop an excess of leukemias over mice given irradiation alone.