We have constructed a recombinant retrovirus containing the murine c-myc and the neo gene and introduced the virus into the interleukin-3 (IL3) dependent myeloid cell line FDC-P1. Unregulated expression of the introduced c-myc gene is associated with both an increased viability and constitutive ornithine decarboxylase mRNA levels in FDC-P1 cells grown in the absence of IL3. FDC-P1 cells infected with the c-myc virus gave rise to IL3 independent lines. Three out of four independent lines have an activated endogenous c-myc or N-myc gene. We have also shown that c-myc mRNA levels are tightly regulated by IL3 in FDC-P1 cells. Taken together these results indicate that myc plays a critical role in the signal transduction pathway of IL3. Furthermore, activation of the N-myc gene may be one mechanism for myeloid cells to progress to complete IL3 independence.