Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1/CXCL12) is one of the essential chemokines, which mediates hematopoietic differentiations. However, the mechanism by which SDF-1 expression is regulated in granulocyte differentiation is poorly understood. Here, we suggest a novel mechanism by which all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) induces the expression of SDF-1 during the differentiation of promyelomonocytic leukemic U937 cells. Moreover, we also demonstrate that activation of transcription factor C/EBPbeta by ATRA regulates SDF-1 expression in U937 cells. In addition, we show that the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors p21(WAF1/CIP1) and Pyk2 are up-regulated by SDF-1 and increased markedly by the costimulation of ATRA and SDF-1. Furthermore, ATRA and SDF-1alpha additively induce U937 cell differentiation. Indeed, silencing the expression of SDF-1 inhibits ATRA-induced granulocyte differentiation significantly. Taken together, these results indicate that SDF-1alpha is involved in granulocyte differentiation in response to ATRA, mediated by the activation of the transcription factor C/EBPbeta.