We have previously reported lack of expression of a polypeptide designated L3 in infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Expression of L3 occurred predominantly in older children with pre-B ALL. We have recently reported the expression during B cell ontogeny of two other polypeptides, designated L2 and L4 with a similar Mr as L3, which were identified as phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated forms respectively of the low Mr heat shock protein. hsp27. In this study we have characterized L3 and identified it as another phosphorylated form of hsp27. The two phosphorylated forms appear to be differentially expressed in acute leukemia. L3 levels in infants who expressed hsp27 isoforms L2 and L4 were significantly diminished compared to levels in older children with an equivalent amount of hsp27. We conclude that leukemic cells in infant ALL exhibit a unique pattern of phosphorylation of hsp27 expressed at a pre-B cell stage of differentiation.