Mast cells have a central role in allergic diseases mediated by specific immunoglobulin E antibody responses to allergens. The binding of IgE to the high-affinity receptor for IgE (Fc epsilon R) on mast cells and basophils enables these cells to react specifically to allergens. Such contact leads to the activation of mast cells and the release of histamine and other pharmacological mediators, causing an immediate hypersensitivity and acute inflammatory reactions, accompanied by the development of allergic symptoms. Here we show that Fc epsilon R-mediated activation of murine mast cells results in the production of the haemopoietic growth factors granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and interleukin-3 (IL-3). IL-3 and GM-CSF, in addition to their role in bone marrow haemopoiesis, also influence inflammation as they have the capacity to recruit, prime and activate inflammatory cells such as neutrophils, macrophages and eosinophils. Secretion of these factors by mast cells in response to allergens may therefore have an important role in local tissue defense.