The precision of molecular biology has allowed a better definition of the components of the Abelson system. We know the gene structures and gene products for the cellular and viral forms of this family of related tyrosine kinases. However, many basic issues first identified in the early biological observations of Abelson, Rabstein, and others remain unanswered. The precise pathway for transformation in biochemical terms remains unknown for Ab-MLV and all of its relatives. Relatively little can be said to explain the preferential growth stimulation for certain hematopoietic cell types by the viral and other altered forms of the oncogene, and no clear insights into the function of the normal cellular forms of the abl oncogene are available. Future progress will certainly depend on the intensive efforts by many workers in the broader field of cellular growth control mechanisms.