HTLV-II has been associated with a variety of lymphoproliferative disorders, including atypical hairy cell leukemia, chronic T cell leukemia, T prolymphocytic leukemia, and large granular lymphocytic leukemia. However, a direct or indirect role for HTLV-II in these disorders is not yet firmly established. We studied a patient diagnosed as having leukemia of the large granular lymphocyte (LGL) type who was HTLV-II seropositive, to determine if the expanded cell population was infected. Two populations of CD3-CD16+ LGL were identified; one was CD8+, the other CD8-. Populations of cells with these surface markers as well as normal CD3+CD4+ and CD3+CD8+ cells were separated by flow cytometric methods, DNA extracted, and gene regions of HTLV-II pol and tax amplified, using the polymerase chain reaction, and probed after Southern blotting. HTLV-II was detected in the CD3+CD8+ population, and not in the CD3-CD16+ large granular lymphocyte population. This finding indicates that the role of HTLV-II, if any, in LGL proliferation is indirect.