Multiple myeloma (MM) is a hematologic malignancy of human plasma cells, and myeloma cells can be classified into several subpopulations according to phenotypic differences, such as CD38 MPC-1- CD49e- immature, CD38 MPC-1+ CD49e- intermediate and CD38 MPC-1+ CD49e+ mature myeloma cells. The expression of the CD45 molecule on myeloma cells is quite variable, and the physiological consequence of CD45 on myeloma cells is still unknown. Recently, we have found that a few MPC-1- immature myeloma cells express CD45 antigens while most myeloma cells do not express the CD45. MPC-1- CD45+ CD49e- but not MPC-1- CD45- CD49e- immature cells contain proliferating cells in response to interleukin-6 (IL-6). IL-6 can also induce expression of CD45 on the MPC-1- CD45- subpopulation of immature myeloma cells. In addition, myeloma cell lines responding to IL-6 express CD45, whereas cell lines proliferating independent of IL-6 do not express CD45. In the U266 cell line, IL-6 leads to the induction of CD45 expression and cell proliferation, indicating that IL-6-induced effects are closely linked to CD45 expression. Thus, there is a heterogeneity in human myeloma cells, and among these subpopulations immature myeloma cells expressing the CD45 molecules appear to proliferate in response to IL-6. In this review we propose the involvement of CD45 in MM pathogenesis, and the possible implications of CD45 as both a phenotypic marker and a functional molecule is discussed.