This report examines the actions of IFN-gamma on monocytopoiesis in murine liquid and semisolid bone marrow cultures. The proliferative response of bone marrow cells to macrophage CSF and granulocyte-macrophage CSF was assayed by measuring [3H]TdR uptake in a range of mouse strains. No interstrain difference in kinetics was observed for CSF-1 action, but GM-CSF acted significantly more rapidly on C57B1/6, Swiss, and to a lesser extent A/J mice than on BALB/c or CBA. IFN-gamma inhibited [3H]TdR incorporation elicited by CSF-1, and to a much lesser extent, GM-CSF. When the two CSF were added together, the effects were not additive; in fact, the response was the same as that seen with GM-CSF alone. When IFN-gamma was also added, the response was restored to the level seen with CSF-1 alone. In essence, the inhibitory actions of GM-CSF and IFN-gamma were mutually exclusive. The mechanism of these actions was investigated using colony assays. As expected, CSF-1 caused the formation of pure macrophage colonies, whereas GM-CSF stimulated production of macrophage, granulocyte, and mixed granulocyte macrophage colonies. When the two CSF were added in combination, the total colony count was greater than with either alone, but less than additive. The number of pure macrophage colonies was reduced to the number seen with GM-CSF alone. IFN-gamma reduced the number of colonies in the presence of CSF-1, but slightly increased the number with GM-CSF. In the presence of both CSF, IFN-gamma increased the colony count by around 25 to 40%, so that the numbers were greater than the combined total of CSF-1 plus GM-CSF added separately. Similar results were obtained in all mouse strains tested. The results suggest that the thymidine uptake data reflect changes in the number of progenitor cells responding rather than changes in cell cycle time. The results are discussed in terms of the possibility that coadministration of GM-CSF and CSF-1 could ameliorate the myelosuppressive actions of IFN-gamma in vivo, leading to more effective use of this agent as a biologic response modifier.