HL60 cells isolated for resistance to Adriamycin do not contain P-glycoprotein, as determined with immunological probes. These cells, however, are multidrug resistant and defective in the cellular accumulation of drug. In view of these findings, we have examined in greater detail certain properties of the HL60/Adr cells and have compared these properties to an HL60 drug-resistant isolate (HL60/Vinc) which contains high levels of P-glycoprotein. The results of these studies demonstrated that verapamil induces a major increase in cellular drug accumulation in both HL60/Adr and HL60/Vinc isolates. An 125I-labeled photoaffinity analog of verapamil labeled P-glycoprotein contained in membranes of HL60/Vinc cells. In contrast, this agent did not label any protein selectively associated with drug resistance in membranes of the HL60/Adr isolate. The photoactive dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker [3H]azidopine and [125I]NASV, a photoaffinity analog of vinblastine, labelled P-glycoprotein in membranes from HL60/Vinc cells, whereas in experiments with the HL60/Adr isolate there was no detectable labeling of a drug resistance associated membrane protein. Additional studies have been carried out to analyze membrane proteins of HL60/Adr cells labeled with the photoaffinity agent 8-azido-alpha-[32P]ATP (AzATP32). The results demonstrate that this agent labeled a resistance associated membrane protein of 190 kilodaltons (P190). P190 is essentially absent in membranes of drug-sensitive cells. Labeling of P190 with AzATP32 in membranes of resistant cells was blocked completely when incubations were carried out in the presence of excess unlabeled ATP. Additional studies were carried out to analyze mdr gene amplification and expression in sensitive and resistant cells. Experiments carried out with human 5',mdr1 (1.1 kb) and mdr3 (1.0 kb) cDNAs demonstrate that both of these sequences were highly amplified in the HL60/Vinc isolate. Only the mrd1 gene sequence however, was overexpressed. In contrast, there was no detectable amplification or overexpression of mdr1 or mdr3 sequences in HL60/Adr cells. The results of this study thus identify a new nucleotide binding protein which is overexpressed in membranes of HL60 cells isolated for resistance to Adriamycin. P190, which exhibits properties distinct from P-glycoprotein, possibly functions in the energy-dependent drug efflux system contained in the HL60/Adr resistant isolate.