The engraftment of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in lethally irradiated mice was evaluated following transplants of enriched hematopoietic cell populations which were defined by surface antigen and rhodamine-123 staining. Phenotypically defined long-term repopulating stem cells, short-term pluripotent progenitors, and committed myeloerythroid progenitors all rapidly reconstituted splenic cellularity and peripheral red blood cells after transplant into myeloablated animals. In contrast, marrow cellularity was reconstituted only after transplant of long-term repopulating stem cells. In addition, peripheral blood platelet and lymphocyte counts increased only after transplantation of the long-term repopulating population. Transplantation of highly enriched multipotent progenitors resulted in a transient increase in peripheral blood myeloid cells that occurred with kinetics similar to that seen after transplant of the primitive stem cell population. Erythroid reconstitution was similar in all groups, suggesting that the effect of myeloerythroid progenitor cells in mouse marrow transplants is primarily on reconstitution of the erythroid lineage due to splenic hematopoiesis. Collectively, these results suggest that the cells which function to rapidly reconstitute the nucleated blood cells in a transplant setting are more closely related to primitive, marrow-homing stem cells than to committed progenitor cells.