We investigated the usefulness of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method for the relative quantification of gene expression using a simultaneously amplified sequence of beta-actin mRNA as an internal control for the target sequence of tax/rex mRNA of human T-cell leukemia virus type I. The PCR product of the internal control was reduced by delaying the addition of the primers for its sequence. The photostimulated luminescence of the bands was measured with a laser image analyzer, and the values were plotted against the cycle number. The cycle differences between the logarithmic phase of the curves for the target sequence and for beta-actin (delta cycle) showed a linear correlation with the initial concentration of the sample. This method is highly sensitive for evaluating gene expression over a wide range.