Between June 1989 and June 1992, 144 patients participated in sequential clinical trials using peripheral blood progenitor cells (PBC) as their sole source of hematopoietic rescue following high-dose chemotherapy. All patients had received prior extensive combination chemotherapy and had marrow defects that precluded autologous bone marrow transplantation (ABMT). PBC were collected according to a single apheresis protocol. The initial 86 patients (group 1) had PBC collected without mobilization. Beginning in April 1991, PBC were mobilized solely with recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rHuGM-CSF). Thirty-four patients (group 2) received rHuGM-CSF at a dose of 125 micrograms/m2/d by continuous intravenous infusion, and 24 patients (group 3) received rHuGM-CSF at a dose of 250 micrograms/m2/d by continuous intravenous infusion. Patients underwent at least six aphereses and had a minimum of 6.5 x 10(8) mononuclear cells (MNC)/kg collected. Cytokines were not routinely administered immediately after transplantation. A median of nine aphereses were required to collect PBC in group 1 and seven aphereses for groups 2 and 3 (P = .03). The time required to recover 0.5 x 10(9)/L granulocytes after transplant was significantly shorter (P = .0004) for the mobilized groups; the median time to recovery was 26 days for group 1, 23 days for group 2, and 18 days for group 3. Transplantation of PBC mobilized with rHuGM-CSF resulted in a shorter time to platelet (P = .04) and red blood cell (P = .01) transfusion independence. Mobilization with rHuGM-CSF alone resulted in efficient collection of PBC, that provided rapid and sustained restoration of hematopoietic function following high-dose chemotherapy. Mobilization of PBC with rHuGM-CSF alone is an effective method for patients who have received prior chemotherapy and have bone marrow abnormalities.