A series of 23 monoclonal antibodies reactive with normal lymphoid and myeloid cells at various stages of differentiation were used to characterize 96 adult patients with acute myelocytic leukaemia (AML), concentrating on the possible role the expression of these antigens may have in predicting response to intensive chemotherapy. Only the expression of CD34 (P = 0.008) and HLA-DR (P = 0.035) was significant in predicting response to therapy; patients with leukaemic cells expressing CD34 (My10) had a complete remission (CR) rate of 59% compared to 87% for those with blasts not expressing the antigen. In a multivariate analysis predicting for CR, the expression of CD34, the disease category (de novo AML versus secondary AML [SAML] or a history of antecedent haematological disorder [AHD]), and WBC were significant covariates. Adjusting for disease category and WBC, patients with CD34-positive AML were one-third as likely to enter CR as with those with disease not expressing the antigen (P = 0.066). Comparison of clinical characteristics between the 58 patients whose leukaemia expressed CD34 and the 33 which were CD34-negative found that patients with CD34-positive AML had a higher incidence of SAML and AHD, a lower WBC at diagnosis, and a more frequent incidence of chromosomal abnormalities involving chromosomes 5 and/or 7. Twenty-eight of these patients also had immunophenotyping performed at relapse. Patients who presented with CD34-positive AML, and entered remission, and then relapsed all recurred with CD34-positive leukaemia; there was no case of CD34-positive AML at diagnosis relapsing with CD34-negative disease. In addition, there were patients presenting with CD34-negative AML and then relapsing with CD34-positive AML. These results suggest that intensive cytoreductive therapy is ineffective against CD34-positive AML. Patients who present with CD34-positive AML may require different therapeutic approaches to completely eradicate their disease.