Preliminary studies in allogeneic BMT suggest that recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rhGM-CSF) is well tolerated. This is a prospective, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Yeast-derived rhGM-CSF 250 micrograms/m2/day or placebo was administered by 4-hour i.v. infusion starting on the day of marrow infusion (day 0) to day 20. All patients received HLA-identical sibling marrow and cyclosporine and prednisone for GVHD prophylaxis. Fifty three patients received rhGM-CSF and 56 received placebo. Comparison of demographics revealed no differences. The time to achieve an absolute neutrophil count of > 0.5 x 10(9) cells/l was shortened in rhGM-CSF treated patients (day 13 vs. 17, P = 0.0001). The incidences of grade III-IV mucositis and infection were significantly reduced (P = 0.005, P = 0.001, respectively) and duration of hospitalization was modestly shortened by 1 day (P = 0.02) in rhGM-CSF treated patients. No differences in platelet recovery, erythrocyte recovery, incidence of veno-occlusive disease, GVHD severity, relapse or survival were observed. In conclusion, rhGM-CSF is well tolerated and reduces post-transplant morbidity in patients undergoing HLA-identical allogeneic BMT.