A cell line (SCMC-MM-1) was established from a human abdominal tumor that was initially diagnosed as a malignant mesenchymoma by histological, immunohistochemical and clinical criteria. The cell line was composed of 2 morphologically and immunohistochemically distinct cell types, one with a small polygonal phenotype (P-type), characterized by the immunostaining of vimentin and the presence of a few electron-microscopically visible organelles, and the other with a giant tubular phenotype (T-type), characterized by the immunostaining of desmin, alpha-sarcomeric actin and skeletal-muscle myosin, and the presence of thick and thin myofilaments and Z-line materials. The parental cell line was cloned into 2 sublines, a P-type clone (SCMC-MM-1-19P) and a T-type clone (SCMC-MM-1-1T), which shared both 2q37 and 11p15 translocations, the characteristic chromosomal aberrations for rhabdomyosarcoma, with the parental SCMC-MM-1 cell line. Northern-blot analyses of the myogenic regulatory genes, including MyoD1 and myogenin, demonstrated the expression of MyoD1 in both of these sublines. Myogenin was very weakly expressed in the SCMC-MM-1-19P subline, but strongly expressed in the SCMC-MM-1-1T subline. Chromosomal and myogenic-regulatory-gene analyses revealed that both of these sublines were rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines. Furthermore, the regulatory-gene analyses indicated that these 2 sublines represented 2 distinct differentiation stages of myoblasts, and that MyoD1 and myogenin could serve as the lineage marker and the differentiation marker, respectively, of human rhabdomyosarcoma.