Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) is a pleiotropic regulator of all stages of hematopoieis. The three mammalian isoforms (TGF-beta1, 2 and 3) have distinct but overlapping effects on hematopoiesis. Depending on the differentiation stage of the target cell, the local environment and the concentration and isoform of TGF-beta, in vivo or in vitro, TGF-beta can be pro- or antiproliferative, pro- or antiapoptotic, pro- or antidifferentiative and can inhibit or increase terminally differentiated cell function. TGF-beta is a major regulator of stem cell quiescence, at least in vitro. TGF-beta can act directly or indirectly through effects on the bone marrow microenvironment. In addition, paracrine and autocrine actions of TGF-beta have overlapping but distinct regulatory effects on hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. Since TGF-beta can act in numerous steps in the hematopoietic cascade, loss of function mutations in hematopoeitic stem cells (HSC) have different effects on hematopoiesis than transient blockade of autocrine TGF-beta1. Transient neutralization of autocrine TGF-beta in HSC has therapeutic potential. In myeloid and erythroid leukemic cells, autocrine TGF-beta1 and/or its Smad signals controls the ability of these cells to respond to various differentiation inducers, suggesting that this pathway plays a role in determining the cell fate of leukemic cells.