Transgenic mice that contain the L-myc gene under the control of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain enhancer (E mu) express the transgene preferentially in T cells, develop thymic hyperplasia and are predisposed to T-cell lymphomas. An analogous E mu N-myc transgene is expressed preferentially in pre-B and B cells and provokes the development of B-cell neoplasias. Animals with an E mu pim-1 construct express the transgene in both B and T cells, but succumb to T-cell lymphomas. Complementation of the E mu N- and L-myc transgenic mice by breeding with E mu pim-1 animals leads to much more rapid development and a dramatically higher incidence of lymphoid malignancies, but the lineage specificity prescribed by the E mu N- and L-myc transgenes is maintained. The different oncogenic potential of myc genes is illustrated by the average latency period of tumor manifestation in double transgenics. Whereas c-myc/pim-1 animals develop pre-B-cell leukemia prenatally, the mean latency period for N-myc/pim-1 and L-myc/pim-1 mice is 36 and 94 days respectively. The N- and L-myc transgenes are expressed at high levels in tumors from double transgenic mice, but expression of the endogenous c- and N-myc genes is undetectable, directly implicating the myc transgenes in the tumor formation process.