In addition to immunologic derangement, hematological abnormalities have been reported in the majority of patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In this study 15 patients with AIDS or AIDS-related complex (ARC) were evaluated for the in vitro growth of hemopoietic progenitor cells. In all patients a significant reduction of growth (mean +/- SEM) of colony-forming unit-granulocyte, erythrocyte, macrophage, (megakaryocyte) (CFU-GEM) (1.2 +/- 0.3), burst-forming unit-erythroid (BFU-E) (17 +/- 10), CFU-megakaryocyte (CFU-Mk) (1.7 +/- 0.6), and CFU-granulocyte-macrophage (CFU-GM) (35 +/- 10) was observed in comparison with normal controls. Depletion of T cells from the bone marrow before culture led to a significant increase in colony growth, which indicated an imbalance of the normally modulating T cell subsets. This increase was reversed by readdition of autologous T cells causing a decrease in colony growth to a degree, dependent on the T4 to T8 ratio. A decreased number of hemopoietic progenitor cells and/or a defective modulation of progenitor cell growth, normally carried out by T lymphocyte subsets, might be the cause of the hematological abnormalities in AIDS patients.