Endogenous production of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), macrophage CSF (M-CSF), granulocyte-macrophage CSF (GM-CSF), interleukin-3 (IL-3), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) was investigated in 10 children who underwent a total of 12 courses of autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT) by measuring their serum levels using immunoassay kits. The serum G-CSF level increased immediately following infusion of PBSC graft, peaked between days 3 and 7 posttransplant and then declined by the time the granulocyte count rose. No definitive association was found between the continuous high levels of G-CSF and infective episodes, the number of infused nucleated cells, monocytes, CFU-GM, or the number of days required to achieve greater than 0.5 x 10(9)/L granulocyte, greater than 1.0 x 10(9)/L leukocyte, or greater than 50 x 10(9)/L platelet counts. After PBSCT, IL-6 levels tended to be elevated. No detectable serum level of GM-CSF or IL-3 (< 50 pg/mL) was observed before PBSCT and 4 patients showed a transient increase in the GM-CSF level after PBSCT. No significant change was observed in the post-transplant serum levels of IL-3 or M- CSF. The role of endogenously secreted cytokines in early hematopoietic recovery after PBSCT needs further clarification, but, at present, routine use of exogenous G-CSF therapy is not recommended.