Maternally administered recombinant human granulocyte colony- stimulating factor (rhG-CSF) has been shown to cross the placenta and induce a peripheral neutrophilia and increases in the marrow and spleen neutrophil storage pools in fetal and newborn rats. In the present study, we have used this model system to investigate the efficacy of prenatally administered rhG-CSF on neonatal defense to a lethal challenge with Group B-beta hemolytic Streptococcus (GBS). Pregnant rats were injected with rhG-CSF twice daily beginning 6 days before parturition. At birth, all pups were infected with a dose of GBS that is lethal for 90% of infected pups (LD90). Survival was monitored daily for 5 days. Survival of infected pups from saline-treated mothers beyond 60 hours after infection was 10%. No difference in survival was observed among pups from mothers treated 2 and 4 days before parturition. In contrast, we determined that survival was 82.5% among infected pups from mothers treated for 6 days before parturition with rhG-CSF. Our results demonstrate that maternal administration of rhG- CSF augments neonatal defenses against a lethal bacterial challenge.