The ligation of CD47 induces the apoptosis of leukemic cells in a caspase-independent manner. We generated a monoclonal antibody against CD47 (mAb-MABL) that possibly induced apoptosis from the ligation of CD47 in CCRF-CEM and JOK-1 cells in vitro. To confirm whether the ligation of CD47 caused cell death in vivo, we examined the antitumor activity of F(ab')2 of mAb-MABL in two xenograft models: The acute lymphoblastic leukemia (CCRF-CEM) and the B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (JOK-1) cell line. Furthermore, in order to clarify the apoptotic activity selective for the tumor cells, we examined F(ab')2 of mAb-MABL apoptotic effects on CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor/stem and human endothelial cells. Male SCID mice were intravenously injected with CCRF-CEM (5 x 10(6) cells/mouse) or JOK-1 cells (5 x 10(6) cells/mouse) and intraperitoneally with JOK-1 cells (2 x 10(7) cells/mice). After the implantation of the cells, the mice were intravenously administered the vehicle or the F(ab')2 fragment of mAb-MABL at several doses and the length of survival was measured. F(ab')2 of mAb-MABL markedly prolonged the survival of mice transplanted with CCRF-CEM and JOK-1. Significantly, 40% of the mice intraperitoneally injected with JOK-1 cells became tumor-free when administered F(ab')2 of mAb-MABL, whereas even a high dose of fludarabine only slightly prolonged the median survival time. On the contrary, F(ab')2 of mAb-MABL showed no apoptotic effect on CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor/stem or human endothelial cells. Thus, monoclonal antibodies that cause cell death from the ligation of CD47 could be novel therapeutic agents for incurable leukemia after further optimization such as humanization or making single chain diabodies.