Mutations in the ELA2 gene encoding neutrophil elastase (NE) are present in most patients with severe congenital neutropenia (SCN). However, the mechanisms by which these mutations cause neutropenia remain unknown. To investigate the effects of mutant NE expression on granulopoiesis, we used the HL-60 promyelocytic cell line retrovirally transduced with the G185R NE mutant that is associated with a severe SCN phenotype. We show that the mutant enzyme accelerates apoptosis of differentiating but not of proliferating cells. Using metabolic labeling, confocal immunofluorescence microscopy, and immunoblot analysis of subcellular fractions, we also demonstrate that the G185R mutant is abnormally processed and localizes predominantly to the nuclear and plasma membranes rather than to the cytoplasmic compartment observed with the wild-type (WT) enzyme. Expression of the G185R mutant appeared to alter the subcellular distribution and expression of adaptor protein 3 (AP3), which traffics proteins from the trans-Golgi apparatus to the endosome. These observations provide further insight into potential mechanisms by which NE mutations cause neutropenia and suggest that abnormal protein trafficking and accelerated apoptosis of differentiating myeloid cells contribute to the severe SCN phenotype resulting from the G185R mutation.