Purified preparations of natural CSF-1 (nCSF-1), recombinant GM-CSF (rGM-CSF), and recombinant IL-3 (rIL-3), alone and in combination, were investigated for their proliferative effects on highly enriched murine granulocyte-macrophage progenitor cells (CFU-GM). These CFU-GM had cloning efficiencies of 62%-95% in the presence of 10% (vol/vol) pokweeed mitogen-stimulated spleen cell-conditioned medium, and contained few, if any (≤3%), contaminating morphologically recognizable monocytes or lymphocytes. The combination of low concentrations of nCSF-1 plus rIL-3, or nCSF-1 plus rGM-CSF, increased colony number greater than additively compared to the sum of colony formation with each factor alone, whereas total aggregate (colony plus cluster) number increased additively. At plateau concentrations, the previous CSF combinations increased colony number additively. Colony size was increased when nCSF-1 plus either rGM-CSF or rIL-3 were added simultaneously at either low or plateau concentrations, when compared to the size of colonies with any of the CSFs alone. Addition of rGM-CSF plus rIL-3 demonstrated no cooperative proliferative effect on neither colony number or size. It is likely that these effects are mediated at the progenitor cell level and do not require accessory cell participation.