Thrombopoietin (TPO) is a recently discovered hematopoietic growth factor which stimulates the production and maturation of megakaryocytes. In this study, we used a modified MTT assay to examine the in vitro growth-stimulatory effects of recombinant human (rh)TPO and recombinant human stem cell factor (rhSCF) on eight small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines and one leukemic cell line, CMK, with megakaryocyte characteristics. rhTPO did not reveal any stimulatory effects on all eight SCLC cell lines, while rhSCF demonstrated a modest growth-stimulatory effect on one etoposide-resistant SCLC cell line (H69/VP). The transcripts of c-mpl, the receptor of TPO, was not detected in all SCLC cell lines by RT-PCR analysis, while those of c-kit, the receptor of SCF, were detected in five of eight SCLC cell lines. Our data suggest that rhTPO does not promote the growth of SCLC cell lines and may be clinically applicable for patients with this disease. Moreover, rhSCF may cause adverse effects in part of the SCLC patients.