Anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family, such as Bcl-w, maintain cell viability by preventing the activation of the cell death effectors, the caspases. Gene targeting experiments in mice have demonstrated that Bcl-w is required for spermatogenesis and for survival of damaged epithelial cells in the gut. Bcl-w is, however, dispensable for physiological cell death in other tissues. Here we report on the analysis of Bcl-w protein expression using a panel of novel monoclonal antibodies. Bcl-w is found in a diverse range of tissues including colon, brain and testes. A survey of transformed cell lines and purified hematopoietic cells demonstrated that Bcl-w is expressed in cells of myeloid, lymphoid and epithelial origin. Subcellular fractionation and confocal laser scanning microscopy demonstrated that Bcl-w protein is associated with intracellular membranes. The implications of these results are discussed in the context of the phenotype of Bcl-w-null mice and recent data that suggest that Bcl-w may play a role in colon carcinogenesis.