The addition of recombinant rat interleukin-5 (IL-5), which was purified from the hemolymph of silkworm Bombyx mori larvae infected with IL-5-expressing recombinant virus, to cultures of rat bone marrow cells resulted in an increase in the number of Luxol-fast-blue staining eosinophils in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. After 6 days culture with 100 pM recombinant rat IL-5, more than 90% of the bone marrow cells were eosinophil. The contents of major basic protein (MBP) in the bone marrow cells determined by Western blot analysis using a polyclonal antibody to rat MBP were also increased by recombinant rat IL-5 (100 pM). Furthermore, intravenous injections of recombinant rat IL-5 twice a day for six consecutive days increased the population of eosinophils in peripheral blood cells and in bone marrow cells. These findings indicate that rat IL-5 induces terminal differentiation and proliferation of progenitor cells to mature eosinophils in rats.