T cell depletion of donor bone marrow can prevent graft v host disease (GVHD) in human and murine marrow graft recipients. However, engraftment in the recipient may be compromised as a consequence of donor marrow T cell depletion. The effect of recombinant murine granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rmu GM-CSF) on engraftment and hematologic reconstitution was evaluated in a murine allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) model involving T cell depletion of marrow. Before transplantation into irradiated mice differing at major and minor histocompatibility loci, rmu GM-CSF was preincubated with T cell-depleted donor marrow. When low degrees of engraftment were noted in control recipients, treatment of donor marrow with high concentrations of rmu GM-CSF led to enhanced engraftment. Ex vivo donor graft incubation with rmu GM-CSF or a single in vivo injectio of rmu GM-CSF were both effective means of promoting engraftment. When the engraftment rate in control recipients was high, rmu GM-CSF did not have an identifiable effect. Only slight increases in hematologic recovery were detected regardless of the rate of engraftment. Neither post-BMT survival nor marrow stem cell capacity was affected by rmu GM-CSF incubation. Furthermore, growth factor administration did not have a significant effect on the incidence of GVHD in recipients of non-T cell-depleted bone marrow/splenocyte preparations. In vitro natural killer-mediated target cell lysis was not altered by incubation of effector cells with rmu GM-CSF. These results demonstrate the potential of ex vivo rmu GM-CSF treatment of donor marrow to facilitate engraftment across extensive histocompatiblity barriers.