Mouse bone marrow cells were grown in plasma clots, megakaryocyte formation was stimulated with human urinary erythropoietin (Ep). The expression of megakaryocyte colony forming units (CFUM) and of single megakaryocyte forming units (M) was evaluated after seven days in culture. Usually ten times more M than CFUM were found. Megakaryocytic colony formation showed a linear dependence on cell dose from 0.5 to 2 X 10(5) cells/clot. The colony size frequency distribution exhibited a single peak in the two-cell size class, followed by a continuous decrease, suggesting that cell division may occur asynchronously in cells making up a colony. Mouse L cell interferon (IF) in doses from 10 to 1000 U/ml was included in clots together with Ep. This resulted in a biphasic, dose dependent reduction of colony formation and of single megakaryocyte formation. At all doses tested CFUM were more sensitive to IF than M. These observations are best explained by a differential inhibitory effect of IF on replication of two or more classes of megakaryocytic progenitor cells.