Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphomas most frequently involve the gastrointestinal tract and are the most common subset of extranodal non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Here we describe overexpression of BCL10, a novel apoptotic signalling gene that encodes an amino-terminal caspase recruitment domain (CARD), in MALT lymphomas due to the recurrent t(1;14)(p22;q32). BCL10 cDNAs from t(1;14)-positive MALT tumours contained a variety of mutations, most resulting in truncations either in or carboxy terminal to the CARD. Wild-type BCL10 activated NF-kappaB but induced apoptosis of MCF7 and 293 cells. CARD-truncation mutants were unable to induce cell death or activate NF-kappaB, whereas mutants with C-terminal truncations retained NF-kappaB activation but did not induce apoptosis. Mutant BCL10 overexpression might have a twofold lymphomagenic effect: loss of BCL10 pro-apoptosis may confer a survival advantage to MALT B-cells, and constitutive NF-kappaB activation may provide both anti-apoptotic and proliferative signals mediated via its transcriptional targets.