Umbilical cord blood (CB) is a valuable source of stem cells for transplantation, but CB transplantations are frequently complicated by delayed platelet engraftment. The reasons underlying this are unclear. We hypothesized that CB- and peripheral-blood (PB)-derived megakaryocytes (MKs) respond differently to the adult hematopoietic microenvironment and to thrombopoietin (Tpo). To test this, we cultured CB- and PB-CD34(+) cells in adult bone marrow stromal conditioned media (CM) or unconditioned media (UCM) with increasing concentrations of recombinant Tpo and compared the effects of these conditions on CB-versus PB-MKs. PB-MKs reached highest ploidy in response to UCM + 100 ng/mL rTpo, and the addition of CM inhibited their maturation. In contrast, CB-MKs reached highest ploidy in CM without rTpo, and high rTpo concentrations (> 0.1 ng/mL) inhibited their maturation. This is the first evidence that human neonatal and adult MKs have substantially different biologic responses to Tpo and potentially to other cytokines.