Transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) selectively modulates hematopoietic cell proliferation. The proliferation of FDC-P1 clone MAC- 11, a factor-dependent murine myeloid progenitor cell line, was inhibited differentially by TGF-beta 1: strongly in macrophage colony- stimulating factor (M-CSF), mildly in interleukin-3, and not at all in granulocyte-macrophage-CSF (GM-CSF). Flow cytometry and Western blots showed an unexpected increase in expression of FMS, the receptor for M- CSF, in response to TGF-beta 1. Metabolic labeling with 35S-methionine showed that synthesis of FMS protein accelerated in response to TGF- beta 1, whereas its degradation was unaffected. Northern analyses showed a rapid increase in c-fms RNA after the addition of TGF-beta 1. TGF-beta 1 did not affect kinase activity, cellular phosphotyrosine response, or internalization of FMS. However, TGF-beta 1 inhibited the induction by M-CSF of c-myc RNA analyzed on Northern blots and protein detected by radioimmuno-precipitation. TGF-beta 1 did not affect induction of c-myc expression by GM-CSF or induction of c-fos or c-jun by M-CSF. Therefore, FMS and the GM-CSF receptor induce c-myc via signal transduction pathways that differ in that only the former is inhibited by TGF-beta 1. This inhibition may account for the selective growth regulation by TGF-beta 1.