We examined the expression of the Bcl-2 gene at chromosome segment 18q21, that is translocated into the Ig heavy chain gene locus in t(14;18) bearing lymphomas. Bcl-2, while B cell associated, is expressed in a variety of hematopoietic lineages including T cells. Bcl-2 mRNA levels are high during pre-B cell development, the time at which the t(14;18) translocation occurs, but are down regulated with maturation. Like certain other oncogenes, Bcl-2 is quiescent in resting B cells but up-regulated with B cell activation. Mature B cell lymphomas with a t(14;18) have log-folds more mRNA than matched counterparts without the translocation. A sensitive S1 protection assay revealed that all transcripts in t(14;18) B cells were Bcl-2-Ig fusion mRNAs and originated from the translocated allele. Thus, there is a marked deregulation of Bcl-2 when it is introduced into the Ig locus in t(14;18) lymphomas.