Cells in mitosis can be flow cytometrically discriminated from G1, S, and G2 cells by analysis of a nuclear suspension prepared with nonionic detergent, fixed with formaldehyde, and stained with mithramycin, propidium iodide, or ethidium bromide. With these DNA-fluorochromes, the fluorescence is quenched by formaldehyde less in mitotic nuclei than in interphase nuclei. Mitotic nuclei have a 20-40% increased mithramycin fluorescence and 30-60% decreased light scatter in comparison to those of G2 nuclei. There is a high correlation (r = 0.95; P less than 0.001) between microscope counts of mitotic figures in smear preparations of the initial cell suspension and the flow cytometrically estimated fraction of nuclei with increased mithramycin fluorescence. Flow sorting (FACS) demonstrates that the mitotic nuclei are confined to the peak of increased mithramycin fluorescence and decreased light scatter. The method has been applied to cultures of Yoshida ascites tumor cells, JB-1 reticulosarcoma cells, and PHA-stimulated human lymphocytes, incubated in the presence or absence of vinblastine for mitotic arrest. In a heteroploid mixture of fixed Yoshida (near-diploid) and JB-1 (hypotetraploid) nuclei, the mitotic fractions of the two cell lines could be estimated separately when analyzed with mithramycin fluorescence versus light scatter or with mithramycin fluorescence versus propidium iodide fluorescence.