The use of myeloid growth factors has markedly reduced the complications of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, however, abrogation of severe thrombocytopenia remains a major clinical problem. Platelet transfusions remain the standard method of preventing or treating thrombocytopenia but are associated with a variety of complications and are a limited resource. A number of cytokines have been clinically investigated for their thrombopoietic activity, the most promising of which is the recently cloned ligand to the hematopoietic growth factor receptor, c-Mpl. The c-Mpl ligand, also referred to as thrombopoietin, megakaryocyte growth and development factor (MGDF) and megapoietin, is a potent lineage-specific agent that promotes growth and maturation of megakaryocytes and their progenitors. It holds promise for clinical use in the treatment of iatrogenic or disease-associated bone marrow failure states and possibly in syndromes of excessive platelet consumption. Early clinical trials assessing the safety and activity of recombinant human MGDF are now underway.