Retroviral expression vectors carrying the tyrosine kinase oncogenes abl, fms, src, and trk abrogate the requirements of murine myeloid FDC-P1 cells for interleukin-3 (IL-3). Factor-independent clones constitutively express c-myc in the absence of IL-3, whereas in parental cultures c-myc transcription requires the presence of the ligand. To directly test the effect of a tyrosine kinase oncogene on c-myc expression, retroviral constructs containing three different temperature-sensitive mutants of v-abl were introduced into myeloid IL-3-dependent FDC-P1 and 32D cells. At the permissive temperature, clones expressing temperature-sensitive abl behaved like wild-type abl-containing cells in their growth properties and expressed c-myc constitutively. Temperature shift experiments demonstrated that both IL-3 abrogation and the regulation of c-myc expression correlated with the presence of functional v-abl. Induction of c-myc expression by reactivation of temperature-sensitive v-abl mimicked c-myc induction by IL-3 in that it did not require protein synthesis and occurred at the level of transcription, with effects on both initiation and a transcription elongation block. However, v-abl-regulated FDC-P1 cell growth differed from IL-3-regulated growth in that c-fos and junB, which are normally induced by IL-3, were not induced by activation of v-abl.