One of the prominent cell cycle-related modifications of histone proteins whose function remains unresolved is the phosphorylation of linker histone H1. In this work we have used indirect immunofluorescence on human cells with antibodies that are specific for phosphorylated histone H1 to examine the cellular distribution and chromosome association patterns of this protein. With confocal microscopy on whole cells, strong immunofluorescence was seen in association with mitotic chromosomes as well as a prominent punctate pattern of labeling throughout the mitotic cell, whereas interphase cells showed very little, if any, specific fluorescence. Multiple patterns of fluorescence distribution were detected with metaphase chromosomes, ranging from apparent tight colocalization with the DNA to expanded "puffy" mitotic figures to an amorphous network of staining. It was also shown that the ability to label chromosomes could vary drastically with different fixation procedures, adding further complications to interpretation of the potentially complex role of phosphorylated histone H1 in chromatin condensation or decondensation.