Colony stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1) is a glycoprotein growth factor required for the proliferation and differentiation of mononuclear phagocytic cells (reviewed in ref. 1). A 10,000-fold elevation of mouse uterine CSF-1 during pregnancy, suggested by studies of the bone marrow colony stimulating activity of uterine extracts, was recently demonstrated by radioimmunoassay (RIA). This increase and the observations that placenta and choriocarcinoma cell lines express c-fms messenger RNA and the c-fms proto oncogene product (CSF-1 receptor) respectively, suggest an additional role for CSF-1 in pregnancy. We now show that uterine CSF-1 concentration is regulated by the synergistic action of female sex steroids, oestradiol-17 beta (E2) and progesterone (P) and that the elevation in CSF-1 concentration can be attributed to the preferential expression of an alternatively spliced CSF-1 mRNA by uterine glandular epithelial cells. These findings indicate that CSF-1, under hormonal influence, plays a role in placental development and function and that steroid hormones may regulate developmental processes via their effects on the expression of tissue-specific growth factors.