Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) has been known as a multiple function factor, which also stimulates early haematopoiesis. In this study, we found that HGF was expressed at both the RNA and protein levels in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). In patients with AML (n = 20) and CML (n = 5), bone marrow plasma HGF concentrations were 20.44 +/- 6.26 (mean +/- s.e.) ng ml-1 and 7.17 +/- 0.53 ng ml-1 respectively. These were significantly higher (P < 0.01) than the value for normal subjects (n = 26): mean 0.92 +/- 0.09 ng ml-1. Constitutive HGF production was observed in freshly prepared leukaemic blast cells from three patients with high HGF levels of bone marrow plasma. Expression of HGF mRNA was correlated with bone marrow plasma HGF levels. After complete remission was obtained in six patients, bone marrow plasma HGF levels were significantly decreased. In contrast, the HGF mRNA was less abundantly expressed in acute lymphoid leukaemia (ALL). In patients with ALL (n = 5), bone marrow plasma HGF concentration (0.69 +/- 0.14 ng ml-1) remained low within the value for normal subjects. These results suggest that some populations of myeloid lineage cells have the ability to produce HGF.