We have investigated the effects of in vivo treatment with flt3 ligand (FL) on murine hematopoiesis, including mobilization of progenitors into the peripheral blood (PB). Mice were injected once daily with 10 micrograms recombinant human FL for 15 days. On days 3, 5, 8, 10, 15, and 22, mice were killed and analyzed for the number of leukocytes and colony-forming units (CFU) in bone marrow (BM), spleen, and PB. Splenic and PB cellularity increased with time in FL-treated mice. In the spleen, there was an increase in B cells, myeloid cells, and nucleated erythroid cells; in the PB, there was an increase in lymphocytes, granulocytes, and monocytic cells. The maximal number of CFU in the BM was observed after 3 days of FL treatment, giving 3.7- and 7.3-fold increases in CFU-granulocyte-macrophage (CFU-GM) and CFU-granulocyte, erythrocyte, monocyte, megakaryocyte (CFU-GEMM), respectively, compared with mouse serum albumin (MSA)-treated controls. After 8 days of FL treatment, there was a maximal 123- and 108-fold increase in splenic CFU-GM and CFU-GEMM, respectively. The maximal number CFU-GM and CFU- GEMM were seen in PB on day 10, with 537- and 585-fold increases, respectively. Burst-forming units-erythroid (BFU-E) increased in the same time frame as those of CFU-GM and CFU-GEMM in BM, spleen, and PB, although the magnitude was not as great. Primitive day-13 CFU-spleen (CFU-S) and phenotypically defined stem cells were also mobilized into the PB of FL-treated mice with similar kinetics and magnitude to that of CFU-GM and CFU-GEMM. We conclude from these studies that FL, when administered as a single agent, is a potent mobilizer of hematopoietic progenitors into the PB.