NB4 is an acute promyelocytic leukemia cell line that has been shown to be inducible to terminal neutrophil maturation with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). HL60 cells are differentially inducible with 12-O- tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to monocytes or granulocytes, respectively. HL60 cells induced with DMSO undergo defective neutrophil maturation, manifested by a coordinate failure of secondary granule protein gene expression. We observed a similar defect in granulocytic maturation in ATRA-induced NB4 cells. In addition, because normal promyelocytes are known to have bilineage potential, we have investigated differentiation along monocytoid lines induced with TPA. We observed a striking phenotypic change along monocytoid/macrophage lines with TPA induction. Flow cytometry showed a TPA-induced increase in HLA-DR expression, and Northern blot analysis showed induction of expression of CD18, c-fos, and human neutrophil gelatinase (HNG). HNG is unique among the neutrophil secondary granule protein genes in that it is expressed in both the neutrophil and monocyte lineages. This again parallels our findings in TPA-induced HL60 cells, which retain the ability to express HNG. These findings confirm bilineage potential in NB4 cells. They also support the hypothesis of coordinate neutrophil secondary granule protein gene expression and a defect in this control as part of the leukemic phenotype.