The t(10;14) chromosomal translocation of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia joins the T-cell receptor delta gene to a region upstream of a diverged homeobox-containing gene called HOX11. To better understand the pathogenetic role of HOX11 in leukemogenesis, post 5-fluorouracil-treated murine bone marrow cells were infected with a replication-defective retrovirus bearing the gene. Constitutive expression of HOX11 in hematopoietic precursors yielded cell lines at high frequency consisting of immature cells belonging to the myeloid lineage. HOX11-transformed cell lines displayed a strict dependence on IL-3 for their survival and proliferation in culture and were not leukemogenic. The results support the hypothesis that the transforming capacity of HOX11 derives from its ability to alter the expression of genes regulating hematopoietic differentiation and that secondary mutations promoting cell survival or stimulating proliferation are required for progression to malignancy. The findings further suggest that the oncogenic activity of HOX11 might not be restricted to T-cell leukemias in humans.