We examined the effect of hemin, sodium butyrate and mitomycin C on levels of P-glycoprotein mRNA in human myelogenous K562 cells by northern blot analysis. After treatment with sodium butyrate a dose-dependent increase of P-glycoprotein mRNA expression was observed in the adriamycin-resistant K562 and vincristine-resistant K562 lines. With 10 mM sodium butyrate, the level of P-glycoprotein mRNA reached 20 times that of control adriamycin-resistant K562 and with 30 mM sodium butyrate, it exceeded 5 times that of control vincristine-resistant K562. In contrast, hemin and mitomycin C had almost no effect on P-glycoprotein mRNA. In this experiment, since expression of P-glycoprotein mRNA was not necessarily accompanied with induction of erythroid differentiation, the increased amount of P-glycoprotein mRNA is unlikely to be a result of differentiation.