The Nalm-16 cell line was originally described as being of the null acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) phenotype. Using phenotypic and genotypic markers, we have demonstrated the line carries markers associated with cells of the B lineage. In addition, Nalm-16 binds a series of monoclonal antibodies characterized as predominantly recognising neuroectodermal tissues. Amongst these antibodies, UJ13A, 5.1.H11 and ERIC-1 have been shown to recognise the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM). Expression of the NCAM molecule is highly complex, with several isoforms of the protein resulting from the differential splicing of the NCAM mRNA transcript. Western-blot analysis of Nalm-16 cell extracts indicates that cells express the heavily polysialylated form of the molecule found on many embryonic tumours. Neuraminidase digestion indicates that the 140 kD isoform is predominantly expressed on Nalm-16, although the 120 kD isoform is present to a lesser degree. These findings have been confirmed using Northern-blot analysis.