We assessed the effect of signalling through CXCR4 on the proliferation and differentiation of human megakaryocytic progenitor cells (CFU-Meg) in the presence or absence of stem cell factor (SCF) and/or thrombopoietin (TPO), using peripheral blood-derived CD34+IL-6R− cells as a target. TPO alone induced a significant number of CFU-Meg colonies. Although stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) or SCF alone did not support CFU-Meg colony formation, these factors had a synergistic effect on CFU-Meg colony formation in the presence of TPO. The combination of SDF-1, SCF and TPO induced twice as many CFU-Meg colonies as TPO alone. To investigate the mechanism of this synergistic action, we examined the effects of various protein kinase inhibitors on CFU-Meg colony formation. LY294002 and GF109203X (inhibitors of PI3-K and PKC respectively) completely or partially inhibited this synergistic action. In contrast, a MEK inhibitor (PD98059) did not inhibit CFU-Meg colony formation. It significantly increased the higher ploidy classes (16N to 64N) of megakaryocytes supported by TPO, TPO + SCF, TPO + SDF-1, and TPO + SCF + SDF-1, whereas it abolished the effect of SDF-1 on the increase of higher ploidy classes of megakaryocytes supported by TPO. These results suggest that MAPK may negatively or positively regulate the nuclear maturation of megakaryocytes, known as endomitosis. In the presence of PD98059, proplatelet formation (PPF) was significantly augmented, suggesting that the MAPK pathway may also inhibit the initiation of PPF. In conclusion, simultaneous activation of three signals through c-mpl, c-kit and CXCR4 can induce the in vitro proliferation and differentiation of CFU-Meg, and SDF-1 is a potentiator of human megakaryocytopoiesis.