The translocation t(8;16)(p11;p13) is associated with a subtype of acute monocytic leukemia (AML M5) characterized morphologically by erythrophagocytosis and clinically by a poor prognosis. The t(8;16) fuses the MOZ gene from 8p11 with the CBP (also named CREBBP) gene from 16p13. Previously published studies of MOZ and CBP rearrangements in t(8;16)-positive AML have used fluorescence in situ hybridization and Southern blot methodologies, whereas attempts to amplify and to analyze further the chimeric MOZ-CBP and CBP-MOZ transcripts by means of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) have largely been unsuccessful. In the only t(8;16) that has been described at the sequence level using RT-PCR, the CBP-MOZ fusion was found to be out-of-frame, suggesting that the reciprocal MOZ-CBP transcript is the essential one for leukemogenesis. We have developed an RT-PCR strategy that enables us to detect the MOZ-CBP as well as the CBP-MOZ fusions in the two AML M5 with t(8;16)(p11;p13) analyzed. In both leukemias, the combination of a MOZ forward and a CBP reverse primer amplified a strongly expressed 1,128 bp fragment (type I transcript) and a weakly expressed 415 bp fragment (type II transcript). In the type I transcript, nucleotide (nt) 3,745 of MOZ was fused in-frame with nt 284 of CBP, whereas in the type II transcript, nt 3,745 of MOZ was fused out-of-frame with nt 997 of CBP. Nested PCR with a combination of two forward CBP and two reverse MOZ primers amplified CBP-MOZ chimeric transcripts in both cases. Direct sequence analysis showed that nt 283 of CBP was fused in-frame with nt 3,746 of MOZ, that the initiation ATG codon of the CBP gene remained intact, and that there was no mutation or deletion in the part of the CBP gene included in the CBP-MOZ transcript. Thus, the data we present are not informative with regard to the question whether it is the MOZ-CBP or the CBP-MOZ transcript that is leukemogenic. The present RT-PCR method may be of value for rapid identification of the t(8;16) and also for further molecular genetic studies of the two fusion transcripts and their roles in leukemogenesis.