An epithelial cell line, IT-45R1, has been established from a thymus of normal Wistar rat and was found to produce growth factor which stimulated the proliferation of bone marrow cells. This growth factor induced the formation of colonies composed of macrophages, granulocytes, or both, in semi-solid medium and stimulated the proliferation of an interleukin 3 (IL3)/granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)-dependent clone. Neither IL3-dependent clone nor IL6-dependent clone responded to IT-45R1 factor. Additionally, IT-45R1 factor acted on both rat and mouse bone marrow cells but not on human bone marrow cells. Molecular weight of IT-45R1 factor was 30 kD and its isoelectric point was 4.5. To determine whether IT-45R1 factor is GM-CSF or not, Northern blot analysis and neutralization with anti-mouse GM-CSF antibody were carried out. IT-45R1 expressed GM-CSF mRNA, but neither M-CSF nor IL6 transcripts. However, antiserum specific for mouse GM-CSF did not neutralize IT-45R1 factor. Taken together, a rat thymic epithelial cell line, IT-45R1, constitutively produces GM-CSF or GM-CSF-like growth factor.