Previous studies indicated that nucleophosmin/B23, an abundant nucleolar phosphoprotein, accumulated in the nucleoplasm (B23-translocation) of cells after exposure to selected cytotoxic drugs. Attempts were made to understand the B23-translocation mechanism. This paper reports that: (1) B23-translocation is a reversible process. Upon removal of camptothecin, which induced B23-translocation in HeLa cells, nucleophosmin/B23 relocalized into nucleoli within 2 h. Relocation occurs in the presence of cycloheximide which inhibits new protein synthesis. There is no reduction or degradation of nucleophosmin/B23 detected during drug treatments. Nucleophosmin/B23 has a half-life of 18-20 h. Taken together, these results indicate that B23-translocation is a reversible process. Drug treatment causes redistribution of nucleophosmin/B23 in nucleoplasm. (2) Inhibition of RNA synthesis does not cause the B23-translocation. Over 80% of RNA synthesis was inhibited in HeLa cells by treatment with actinomycin D, camptothecin, and methotrexate. While actinomycin D and camptothecin cause B23-translocation in all cells, 40% of methotrexate-treated cells remain untranslocated. (3) There is no significant change of phosphorylation in nucleophosmin/B23 during drug treatment. An identical oligomeric cross-linkage pattern was obtained in drug-treated cells. (4) HeLa cells treated with B23-translocation effective drugs have small and round nucleoli while control cells have large and irregular-shaped nucleoli.