To elucidate the roles of serine/threonine protein phosphatases type 1 (PP1) and type 2A (PP2A) in methylprednisolone-induced differentiation of HL60 cells into granulocytes and K562 cells into monocytes, we examined the effect of serine/threonine protein phosphatase inhibitors, okadaic acid and Gal-A on the proliferation/ differentiation of HL60 and K562 cells. Okadaic acid and Gal-A augmented methylprednisolone induced granulocytic differentiation and cell death of HL60 cells and monocytic differentiation and cell death of K562 cells in different dose ranges, respectively. These data suggest an important role of PP1 and PP2A in the mechanism leading to differentiation of leukemic cells. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. AU rights reserved.