An experimental approach to increasing the effectiveness of leukemia treatment with S-phase-specific cytotoxics is to increase the cycling of leukemia cells with growth factors. However, growth factors may have a different relationship with non-cell-cycle-specific agents. The authors examined the effects of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and interferon-alpha (INF-alpha) on the cytotoxic effects of the alkylating agent busulfan on the erythro-myeloid cell line K562. G-CSF and GM-CSF increased the proliferation and colony-forming ability of K562 cells and protected the cells from busulfan effects. INF-alpha decreased the colony-forming ability and proliferation of the K562 cells and demonstrated a possibly additive effect with busulfan. In the cell line K562, the growth factors G-CSF and GM-CSF protected the cells from the non-cell-cycle-specific alkylating agent busulfan, whereas IFN-alpha demonstrated an additive cytotoxic effect.