Keratinocytes have been demonstrated to produce a number of cytokines, including growth factors such as the CSF IL-3. Circulating blood monocytes and some elicited macrophages retain a significant proliferative potential in response to colony-stimulating activity. Because a macrophage response is prominent in a variety of cutaneous immune reactions, we have studied the ability of conditioned media (CM) from a transformed murine keratinocyte cell line (PAM 212) and from normal murine keratinocytes to induce growth of peritoneal macrophages. CM from both normal and transformed keratinocyte cultures induces [3H]thymidine incorporation by thioglycollate-elicited, but not resident, peritoneal macrophages. IEF of PAM 212 CM reveals peaks of activity at pI 4.8 and less than or equal to 4.2. Analysis of CM by reversed-phase HPLC demonstrates active fractions that elute at 46 to 48% and 53 to 55% acetonitrile. The Mr of the 46 to 48% acetonitrile factor is 25 to 30 kDa by gel filtration HPLC. Polyclonal anti-granulocyte/macrophage (GM) CSF antibody blocks the induction of macrophage [3H]thymidine incorporation by factors with pI 4.8 and eluting at 46 to 48% acetonitrile but does not reduce the activity of crude CM or the factor eluting at 53 to 55% acetonitrile. Based on both physiochemical criteria and antibody neutralization, keratinocytes produce GM-CSF. Keratinocyte-derived factors, including GM-CSF, may play an important role in regulating cutaneous macrophage responses.