Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) are two of the growing number of recognized cytokines involved in the regulation of hematopoiesis. The purification of these factors and the subsequent cloning of the cDNAs which encode these proteins have led to their widespread clinical use in the setting of therapy or disease-induced myelosuppression. Although originally purified on the basis of their colony-stimulating properties, GM-CSF and G-CSF may also play important roles in the regulation of effector cell function. The mechanisms underlying progenitor cell proliferation and effector cell stimulation remain poorly understood. However, the characterization of the GM-CSF and G-CSF receptors and recent work in signal transduction are helping to elucidate these mechanisms. This paper will review the biology of the GM-CSF and G-CSF receptors, the mechanisms of post-receptor signal transduction, and the resultant effects on neutrophil function. In addition, the current and potential clinical uses of these factors will be examined in light of their ability to activate and perhaps enhance the function of neutrophils.