During the past two decades, flow-cytometric immunophenotyping of lymphocytes has evolved from a research technique into a routine laboratory diagnostic test. Extensive studies in healthy individuals resulted in detailed age-related reference values for different lymphocyte subpopulations in peripheral blood. This is an important tool for the diagnosis of hematological and immunological disorders. Similar, albeit less detailed, information is now available for other lymphoid organs, e.g., normal bone marrow, lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus and spleen. Flow-cytometric immunophenotyping forms the basis of modern classification of acute and chronic leukemias and is increasingly applied for initial diagnostic work-up of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Finally, with multiparameter flow cytometry, it is now possible to identify routinely and reliably low numbers of leukemia and lymphoma cells (minimal residual disease).