Ataxia telangiectasia (AT) and T-prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) have similar chromosome abnormalities. Cytogenetic findings reported in 5 patients with AT who developed T-cell leukemia revealed: inv(14)(q11q32) (1 case), tandem translocations of chromosome 14 with breakpoints at q11 and q32 (3 cases), and int. del(14)(q11q32) (1 case). Additional abnormalities were present in 4 patients of whom two had trisomy for 8q. Of 27 patients with T-PLL but without AT, investigated by us, 17 had inv(14)(q11q32) and 3 had tandem rearrangement of chromosome 14 with breaks at 14q11 and q32; 15 of them also had rearrangements resulting in trisomy 8q. Two of the leukemias supervening on AT had morphology and clinical course suggestive of T-PLL. Two other cases of AT studied by us developed typical T-PLL at a young age (18 and 39 years). T-cell clones carrying an inv(14), tandem t(14;14) and t(X;14) can be present in AT for long periods of time without evolving into leukemia. In T-PLL, inv(14) and t(14;14) always occurs with other chromosome abnormalities. We suggest that these additional chromosome abnormalities may be required for the leukemic transformation of AT. This is supported by one of the two AT cases studied by us in which a long-standing t(X;14) clone evolved with the formation of t(1;14)(p21;q11), t(8;22)(q24;q11) at the time of the development of T-PLL.