The in vitro differentiation of multipotent stem cells in long-term marrow cultures can be blocked by treatment with agents that modify cholera toxin induced ADP-ribosylation of proteins. The latter agents also inhibit the growth and development of progenitor cells in soft gels in response to interleukin-3 but have little effect upon the development of progenitor cells that respond to the macrophage colony stimulating factor (CSF-1). Cholera toxin, in the same system, inhibits the development of CSF-1 responsive progenitor cells but has little effect on the development of cells that respond to IL-3. Similarly, progenitor cells that respond to IL-3 are relatively more resistant to pertussis toxin than cells that respond to CSF-1. These data indicate that ADP-ribosylation may be an important post-translational modification of regulatory proteins concerned with hemopoietic cell differentiation and growth in response to stromal cells or growth factors.