The ets family transcription factor PU.1 is expressed in monocytes/macrophages, neutrophils, mast cells, B cells, and early erythroblasts, but not in T cells. We have recently shown that PU.1 gene disruption results in mice with no detectable monocytes/macrophages and B cells but T-cell development is retained. Although neutrophil development occurred in these mice, it was delayed and markedly reduced. We now proceed to demonstrate that PU. 1 null hematopoietic cells fail to proliferate or form colonies in response to macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), granulocyte CSF (G-CSF), and granulocyte/macrophage CSF (GM-CSF). In contrast, PU.1 null cells did proliferate and form colonies in response to interleukin-3 (IL-3), although the response was reduced as compared with control littermates. Compared with control cells, PU.1 null cells had minimal expression of G- and GM-CSF receptors and no detectable M-CSF receptors. The size of individual myeloid colonies produced from PU.1 null primitive and committed myeloid progenitors in the presence of IL-3, IL-6, and stem cell factor (SCF) were reduced compared with controls. Under these conditions, PU.1 null progenitors produced neutrophils but not monocytes/macrophages. These observations suggest that PU.1 gene disruption induces additional cell-autonomous effects that are independent of the alterations in myeloid growth factor receptor expression. Our results demonstrate that PU.1 gene disruption affects a number of developmentally regulated hematopoietic processes that can, at least in part, explain the changes in myeloid development and reduction in myeloid and neutrophil expansion observed in PU.1 null mice.