Human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), and a mutant having a Ser for Cys substitution at residue 18 were produced in Escherichia coli strain W3110. About 60 mg of pure protein was obtained from 50 g of wet cells with a recovery of about 20%. The proteins were characterized physically and chemically, including determination of disulphide bonds, which were found to exist between residues 37-43 and 65-75. Cys-18 is not involved in disulphide bond formation and was substituted by Ser with no effects on gross protein conformation or biological activity. Both the wild-type and the mutant recombinant-derived proteins, although not glycosylated, possess colony-stimulating activities. In a bioassay using the murine myelomonocytic leukaemic cell line WEH1 3B D+, activities were obtained which were similar to those of natural G-CSF and of a glycosylated recominant-derived human G-CSF produced in monkey cells.