Highly purified mouse colony-stimulating factors (CSF) were tested for their effect on neutrophil cytotoxic function in a homologous antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) assay in which TNP-coupled mouse thymoma cells coated with mouse anti-TNP antibodies were used as targets, and purified normal mouse bone marrow neutrophils or induced peritoneal neutrophils were used as effector cells. Biochemically pure granulocyte-macrophage (GM)- and granulocyte (G)-CSF enhanced the cytotoxic activity of neutrophils obtained from both sources, allowing them to kill target cells at low antibody concentrations. Furthermore, GM- and G-CSF showed an additive effect, suggesting either the presence of separate receptors for GM- and G-CSF or of separate subsets of neutrophils. Induced peritoneal neutrophils showed a higher level of basal cytotoxic activity than did bone marrow neutrophils, suggesting neutrophil activation in vivo, but both reached similar levels of cytotoxicity upon maximal stimulation with CSF. In addition, CSF was found to be cross-reactive between mouse and human species in their enhancement of neutrophil cytotoxicity. By testing purified mouse CSF on human neutrophils, it could be shown that G-CSF and GM-CSF are functionally distinct molecules, because only G-CSF enhanced ADCC by human neutrophils. These experiments show that the purified factors that control the production of neutrophils by progenitor cells in vitro also activate differentiated neutrophils to carry out their cytotoxic activity in a more effective manner.