Purified recombinant human interleukin-11 (rhuIL-11) was assessed for its in vivo effects on the proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic progenitors as well as its capacity to accelerate the recovery of a drug-suppressed hematopoietic system. Dosage and time sequence studies demonstrated that administration of IL-11 to normal mice resulted in increases in absolute numbers of femoral marrow and splenic myeloid (granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming unit [CFU-GM], burst-forming unit-erythroid [BFU-E], CFU-granulocyte, erythroid, macrophage, megakaryocyte) progenitor cells and in stimulation of these progenitors to a higher cell cycling rate. This was associated with increased numbers of circulating neutrophils. Administration of IL-11 to mice pretreated with cyclophosphamide decreased the time required to regain normal levels of neutrophil and platelet counts in peripheral blood. In addition, IL-11 accelerated reconstitution to normal range of myeloid progenitors from bone marrow and spleen of myelosuppressed mice. These data suggest that IL-11 may play an important role in the regulation of hematopoiesis, and the application of this novel cytokine may have clinical therapeutic benefits.