Using a whole-cell assay, we found glucocorticoid receptors (GR) in all 43 consecutive assessable children with newly diagnosed acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (ANLL). The receptor levels ranged from 2146 to 81,308 sites/cell (median = 18,105); these results were similar to those for acute lymphocytic leukemia. Receptor levels were not related to any of these clinical or biological features at diagnosis: age, sex, race, initial leukocyte count, liver or spleen size, presence of CNS disease or Auer rods, [3H] thymidine ( [3H]TdR) labelling index, French-American-British morphology or terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase activity. Receptor levels also were not related to the initial treatment response or remission duration after therapy that did not include a glucocorticoid. We conclude that GR level has no clinical utility as a marker protein in childhood ANLL.