Macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF, CSF-1) has been reported to be required for the proliferation and differentiation of macrophages from hematopoietic progenitor cells. Recently, two human M-CSF cDNA clones were isolated encoding proteins of 256 and 554 amino acids. We report here the isolation of a third M-CSF cDNA that encodes a protein of 438 amino acids. The coding regions for the three cDNA clones share a common amino-terminus of 149 amino acids and a common carboxyl-terminus of 75 amino acids including a membrane spanning region. In addition, we isolated a genomic clone of human M-CSF. When each of the cDNA clones or the genomic clone were transfected into COS-7 monkey kidney cells, biologically active M-CSF was expressed as judged by the ability of transfected cell supernatants to stimulate proliferation and colony formation of murine bone marrow cells, as well as formation of monocytic colonies from human bone marrow cells. Surprisingly, proliferation of human bone marrow cells was not induced by recombinant human M-CSF. Analysis of the M-CSF proteins released by COS-7 cells revealed that monomer subunit proteins of 44 or 28 kDa were produced. In addition, we found that the membrane spanning region, present in all three forms of M-CSF cDNA, was not required for the synthesis of a biologically active protein. However, when the membrane spanning region was present in the three M-CSF cDNAs, cell surface associated forms of M-CSF could be readily detected.