Two hundred forty-one patients with a monoclonal protein in the serum but initially no evidence of multiple myeloma, macroglobulinemia, amyloidosis or lymphoma were followed up for more than five years. At the conclusion of the studies the patients were classified as follows: Group 1, patients without significant increase in monoclonal protein, 57 per cent; group 2, patients with more than 50 per cent increase in monoclonal serum protein or development of monoclonal urine protein, 9 per cent; group 3, patients who died without five-year serum studies, 23 per cent; and group 4, patients in whom myeloma, macroglobulinemia or amyloidosis developed, 11 per cent. Initially, the hemoglobin level, size of serum monoclonal protein peak, number of plasma cells in the bone marrow and levels of normal immunoglobulins were not significantly different among the four groups. The median interval from recognition of the monoclonal protein to diagnosis of multiple myeloma was 64 months, of macroglobulinemia 103 months and of amyloidosis 92 months. A significant increase of the monoclonal protein or development of myeloma, macroglobulinemia or amyloidosis occurred in 18 per cent of the patients with monoclonal immunoglobulin G(IgG), in 28 per cent with immunoglobulin A (IgA) and in 25 per cent with immunoglobulin M (IgM). Retrospective analysis of age, sex, presence of organomegaly, hemoglobin level, size and type of serum monoclonal protein peak, presence of small amounts monoclonal light chain in the urine, serum albumin level, levels of uninvolved immunoglobulins, IgG subclass and level of plasma cells in the bone marrow did not show how to distinguish initially between stable benign disease and progressive disease. Therefore, periodic reexamination of patients with monoclonal gammopathy is essential.