Changes in structure, cellularity, hematopoietic progenitor cell and macrophage content, and osteoclast activity were investigated in the hematopoietic organs of the colony-stimulating factor 1(CSF-1)-less osteopetrotic (op/op) mouse. The data indicated that op/op mice undergo an age-related hematopoietic recovery and resolution of osteopetrosis, suggesting that the hematopoietic system has the capacity to use alternative mechanisms to compensate for the absence of an important multifunctional growth factor, CSF-1. In young animals, op/op femurs were heavily infiltrated with bone, and marrow cellularity was significantly reduced. After 6 wk of age, there was an increase in the marrow space available for hematopoiesis. The femoral cavity of op/op mice progressively enlarged, and by 22 wk of age its appearance and marrow cellularity was comparable to that of controls. The percentage of op/op mononuclear phagocytes, defined by F4/80 antigen expression, progressively increased to normal levels by 35 wk of age. There was no difference in the incidence of both primitive and mononuclear phagocyte-committed, CSF-1-responsive progenitor cells in op/op marrow, but their femoral content was significantly reduced in young mice. During the period of reduced hematopoiesis in the marrow of young op/op mice, splenic hematopoietic activity was elevated. This mutant mouse represents a system for the study of the CSF-1-independent regulatory mechanisms involved in hematopoietic regulation.