Abstract Background The HOX genes are master regulators of embryogenesis that are also involved in hematopoiesis. HOXA9 belongs to a cluster of HOX genes that play extensively studied roles in hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis. Methods We established HOXA9-inducible human embryonic stem cells (HOXA9/hESCs) with normal pluripotency and potential for hematopoiesis, which could be used to analyze gene function with high accuracy. HOXA9/hESCs co-cultured with aorta–gonad–mesonephros-derived stromal cells (AGM-S3) were induced to overexpress HOXA9 with doxycycline (DOX) at various times after hematopoiesis started and then subjected to flow cytometry. Results Induction of HOXA9 from Day 4 (D4) or later notably promoted hematopoiesis and also increased the production of CD34+ cells and derived populations. The potential for myelogenesis was significantly elevated while the potential for erythrogenesis was significantly reduced. At D14, a significant promotion of S phase was observed in green fluorescent protein positive (GFP+) cells overexpressing HOXA9. NF-κB signaling was also up-regulated at D14 following induction of HOXA9 on D4. All of these effects could be counteracted by addition of an NF-κB inhibitor or siRNA against NFKB1 along with DOX. Conclusions Overexpression of HOXA9 starting at D4 or later during hematopoiesis significantly promoted hematopoiesis and the production of myeloid progenitors while reduced the production of erythroid progenitors, indicating that HOXA9 plays a key role in hematopoiesis and differentiation of hematopoietic lineages.