A purified murine lymphokine, eosinophil differentiation factor (EDF), was found to be a selective stimulus for the clonal proliferation and differentiation of murine eosinophil progenitor cells, establishing it as the murine eosinophil colony-stimulating factor (Eo-CSF). EDF was also active on human eosinophil progenitors and mature blood eosinophils, but had no effect on neutrophil or macrophage precursor cells, nor on blood neutrophils. In culture of human bone marrow cells, EDF stimulated equal numbers and equal sizes of eosinophil colonies to develop when compared with human placental conditioned medium, a source of human CSFs, suggesting that all responsive progenitor cells were stimulated. Clone transfer experiments and the linear relationship between number of bone marrow cells plated and colonies produced confirmed that the action of EDF was directly on eosinophil progenitor cells. EDF increased the capacity of human blood eosinophils, but not neutrophils, to kill antibody-coated tumor cells and to phagocytose serum-opsonized yeast cells. This functional activation was associated with the enhanced expression of functional antigens (GFA-1, GFA-2, and the receptor for C3bi) on eosinophils. The possession by EDF (Eo-CSF) of all the properties expected of a human eosinophil CSF raises the possibility that a human analog of this molecule exists, and is involved in the regulation of production and function of human eosinophils in vivo.