The effects of recombinant human interleukin-11 (rhIL-11) on in vivo mouse megakaryocytopoeisis were examined. Normal C57Bl/6 mice and splenectomized C57Bl/6 mice were treated for 7 days with 150 micrograms/kg rhIL-11 administered subcutaneously. In normal mice, peripheral platelet counts were elevated compared with vehicle-treated controls after 3 days of rhIL-11 treatment and remained elevated until day 10. Splenectomized mice treated with rhIL-11 showed elevated peripheral platelet counts that were similar in magnitude to normal rhIL-11-treated mice. However, on day 10 the platelet counts in rhIL-11- treated, splenectomized mice were no longer elevated. Analysis of bone marrow megakaryocyte ploidy by two-color flow cytometry showed an increase, relative to controls, in the percentage of 32N megakaryocytes in both normal and splenectomized animals treated with rhIL-11. In normal mice, the number of spleen megakaryocyte colony-forming cells (MEG-CFC) were increased twofold to threefold relative to controls after 3 and 7 days of rhIL-11 treatment, whereas the number of bone marrow MEG-CFC were increased only on day 7. The number of MEG-CFC in the bone marrow of rhIL-11-treated, splenectomized mice was increased twofold compared with controls on both days 3 and 7 of the study. These data show that in vivo treatment of normal or splenectomized mice with rhIL-11 increased megakaryocyte progenitors, stimulated endoreplication of bone marrow megakaryocytes, and increased peripheral platelet counts. In addition, results in splenectomized mice showed that splenic hematopoiesis was not essential for the observed increases in peripheral platelets in response to rhIL-11 administration.