Synovial fluids (SF) from patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and various other arthritides were examined for the presence of colony stimulating factors (CSF). CSF was found in 7 of 13 (54%) SF from OA patients and in 8 of 12 (67%) SF from RA patients. It was also found in SF from patients with other arthropathies including 5 of 5 samples from patients with septic arthritis. Inhibition studies employing monospecific antisera indicated that in both RA and OA, CSF was of the macrophage type (M-CSF). While CSF was found in both inflammatory and noninflammatory effusions, significantly greater numbers of colonies were stimulated by RA SF than by OA SF and in general greater numbers of colonies correlated with higher SF leukocyte counts. Our data suggest that CSF as well as other cytokines may be involved in the perpetuation of joint destruction that occurs in various rheumatological conditions.