In order to evaluate the importance of different thrombopoietic stimulatory cytokines in accelerating platelet recovery after bone marrow transplantation (BMT), we assayed serial plasma concentrations of three cytokines, thrombopoietin (TPO), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and IL-11 through the course of platelet nadir and recovery after BMT. Both mean TPO and IL-6 levels showed a marked rise and later fall preceding or coincident with the platelet nadir and recovery, suggesting their potential role as circulating regulators or stimulators of thrombopoiesis. In contrast, IL-11 levels remained remarkably constant through the whole course suggesting that this cytokine, though capable of stimulating thrombopoiesis, does not serve as a circulating regulator of platelet production. Additionally, we assayed the levels of these three cytokines following initial platelet transfusion to assess the capacity of transfused platelets to adsorb these thrombopoietic cytokines from the plasma and reduce their circulating levels, thus potentially modifying their availability for stimulating megakaryocyte proliferation. No consistent falls in TPO, IL-6 or IL-11 levels were observed following the initial two platelet transfusions. These data support the importance of circulating TPO and IL-6 as hormones capable of stimulating platelet production. Their physiologic relevance as in vivo regulators of thrombopoiesis and clinical utility for therapy of thrombocytopenia need further investigation.