The active sequence in bradykinin (BK) responsible for PGE-aided inhibition of CSF-1-stimulated clonal proliferation of murine mononuclear phagocyte progenitors was determined. In total marrow cultures, BK and (D-Phe7)-BK, a specific BK antagonist, inhibited colony formation by CSF-1 responsive precursors that require two signals, CSF and LPS, for clonal proliferation. (Lys1)-BK, an inactive BK analogue with Lys substituted for the amino-terminal Arg, was inactive. Arg-Pro-Pro-Gly, the amino-terminal tetrapeptide fragment of BK, was fully capable, on a molar basis, of replacing either BK or (D-Phe7)-BK as an inhibitor. Bk, (D-Phe7)-BK, and Arg-Pro-Pro-Gly were not inhibitory for colony formation in cultures containing indomethacin or in cultures depleted of adherent marrow cells. However, in these cultures addition of 10(-9) M PGE2 fully restored inhibition of two-signal-dependent colony formation. PGE2-dependent inhibition by the three peptides was equivalent on a molar basis indicating that Arg-Pro-Pro-Gly contains the sequence responsible for this inhibitory effect of BK and is sufficient to exert PGE-dependent inhibition of two-signal-dependent colony formation. The two-signal-dependent progenitors appear to be in transition to CSF competence suggesting that BK and PGE produced in an hematopoietic environment may act together to limit the production of new macrophages by inhibiting progenitors in transition to CSF competence.