OBJECTIVE To evaluate the effects of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) on the in vitro sensitivity of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell lines and primary AML blast cells to gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO). MATERIALS AND METHODS AML cell lines and primary blasts from 10 patients with AML were first incubated for 72 hours in the presence of G-CSF (5 or 100 ng/mL) and then exposed to increasing concentrations of GO (1-1,000 ng/mL) for an additional 72 hours. RESULTS Pretreatment with G-CSF translated into significant enhancement of GO-induced cytotoxicity in the GO-sensitive HL-60 and NB-4 cells. Conversely, the response of GO-insensitive KG-1a, TF-1, and K562 cells was unaffected by in vitro priming with G-CSF. In vitro exposure to G-CSF augmented GO-induced apoptosis in 7 of 10 primary AML samples and rendered blast cells from three refractory patients sensitive to killing effect of GO. The G-CSF-induced increase of the cytocidal activity of GO was independent of effects on the cell cycle and on the expression levels of CD33 antigen. Of potential interest, G-CSF induced dose-dependent inhibition of P-glycoprotein (P-gp/ABCB1) function in the GO-sensitive HL-60 and NB-4 cells and in blasts from three patients with AML that we tested. CONCLUSION Collectively, our findings point to G-CSF as a potential sensitizing agent that can be exploited therapeutically to improve the clinical efficacy of GO.