The S17 murine stromal cell line was infected with retroviral vectors encoding the v-src and c-src oncogenes and cells expressing high levels of either pp60v-src or pp60c-src were isolated. Long-term bone marrow cultures (LTBMCs) established with these different stromal cell lines showed that progenitor cells proliferated to a greater extent in cultures with stromal cells that over-expressed either c-src or v-src. An increase in the number of granulocytes, monocytes, and colony- forming units granulocyte-macrophage (CFU-GM) in the nonadherent cell population of LTBMCs prepared with S17/v-src or S17/c-src stromal cells was observed. Conditioned media from the S17/v-src and S17/src stromal cell lines stimulated the formation of CFU-GM in the absence of additional hematopoietic cell growth factors. Conditioned media from S17/v-src and S17/c-src stimulated proliferation of the granulocyte- macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)-responsive cell line FDCP-1 and this stimulation was inhibited by neutralizing antisera to murine GM-CSF. An increase in the concentration of GM-CSF was confirmed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. No secretion of interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1 alpha) or tumor necrosis factor-alpha was detected by any of the stromal cell lines. There was no increase in the secretion of either CSF-1 or IL-6 by either S17/v-src or S17/c-src. The addition of 1 micrograms/mL monoclonal anti-GM-CSF antibody to LTBMCs caused a decrease in the number of nonadherent cells in cultures established with each of the different stromal cell lines. Northern blot analysis showed no difference in the level of GM-CSF RNA among the different stromal cell lines. These studies suggest that the increased proliferation of hematopoietic progenitor cells in LTBMCs with S17/v-src or S17/c-src cells may result from a posttranscriptional event that elevates production of GM-CSF by the S17/c-src and S17/v-src stromal cells.