Although hypercellularity is a common bone marrow finding in patients with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection, the effect of HIV-1 on the hematopoietic system, which has been investigated in in vitro studies, is still controversial. In this study, we have investigated the effects of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein, gp160, on the differentiation of hematopoietic progenitor cells derived from cord blood. Culture of cord blood mononuclear cells with gp160 resulted in enhancement of the in vitro growth of myeloid hematopoietic progenitors. To investigate the mechanism of the enhancement, adherent cells, T cells, or CD34-bearing hematopoietic progenitors were isolated and cultivated with gp160 in a variety of culture conditions. We have shown that gp160 had no direct effect on highly purified hematopoietic progenitors but exerted its enhancing effect indirectly via T cells, by induction of a humoral colony-stimulating factor(s). The activity of gp160 on T cells was abrogated by preincubation of gp160 with recombinant CD4 molecule and goat anti-gp120 antibody. These data provide evidence for a novel biological activity of HIV envelope glycoprotein, that of T-cell-mediated stimulation of myelopoiesis. Binding of gp160 with the cell surface CD4 molecule appears to be necessary for secretion of the colony-stimulating factor(s).