Tumour necrosis factor-α, interferon-γ and interleukin-4 are critical cytokines in regulating the immune responses against infections and tumours. In this study, we investigated the effects of three cytokines on CD40 expression in Myb-transformed hematological cells and their regulatory roles in promoting these cells into dendritic cells. We observed that both interleukin-4 and interferon-γ increased CD40 expression in these hematological cells in a dose-dependent manner, although the concentration required for interleukin-4 was significantly higher than that for interferon-γ. We found that tumour necrosis factor-α promoted CD40 expression induced by interferon-γ, but not by interleukin-4. Our data showed that tumour necrosis factor-α plus interferon-γ-treated Myb-transformed hematological cells had the greatest ability to take up and process the model antigen DQ-Ovalbumin. Tumour necrosis factor-α also increased the ability of interferon-γ to produce the mixed lymphocyte reaction to allogenic T cells. Furthermore, only cotreatment with tumour necrosis factor-α and interferon-γ induced Myb-transformed hematological cells to express interleukin-6. These results suggest that tumour necrosis factor-α plays a key regulatory role in the development of dendritic cells from hematological progenitor cells induced by interferon-γ.