The neonatal neutropenia after pregnancy-induced hypertension is a function of diminished neutrophil production. These studies test the hypothesis that this diminution is due to decreased production of neutrophilic growth factors, reduced responsiveness of neutrophil progenitors to these factors, or the presence of an inhibitor. While the concentrations of placentally derived colony-stimulating factors were similar in normotensive and hypertensive gestations, bioassay demonstrated less colony-stimulating activity in placental conditioned media from hypertensive gestations. Evaluation of the responsiveness of progenitors to recombinant factors revealed no differences between those from normotensive and hypertensive gestations. However, neutrophilic colony formation in vitro was significantly inhibited after the addition of conditioned media or sera from hypertensive gestations, whereas the addition of these from normotensive gestations had no inhibitory effect. Thus this common maternal-fetal disorder is associated with an inhibitor of neutrophil production, which is elaborated by the placenta and present in cord blood serum.