With regard to the expression of adhesion molecules, human myeloma cells freshly isolated from bone marrow were heterogeneous. By two-color analysis with anti-VLA-5 antibody (PE staining) and FITC-labeled anti-CD38 antibody, we found all myeloma cells located at CD38-strong positive (CD38++) fraction and identified two subpopulations among these myeloma cells: CD38++ VLA-5-(VLA-5-) myeloma cells and CD38++ VLA-5+ (VLA-5+) myeloma cells. To clarify the biologic character of these two subpopulations, the morphology, in vitro proliferative activity and in vitro M-protein secretion were examined in each fraction isolated by the purification procedure or a cell sorter. Morphologic examination showed that VLA-5- myeloma cells were mostly immature or plasmablastic and VLA-5+ cells were mature myeloma cells. Furthermore, VLA-5- myeloma cells proliferated markedly in vitro and responded to interleukin 6 (IL-6), a growth factor for myeloma cells, while VLA-5+ myeloma cells showed very low uptakes of 3H-thymidine and no responses to IL-6 but secreted higher amounts of M-protein (immunoglobulin) in vitro significantly. Therefore, we could clarify here heterogeneity of human myeloma cells in the bone marrow with regard to the expression of VLA-5, one of integrin adhesion molecules; VLA-5- myeloma cells were proliferative immature cells and VLA-5+ cells were mature myeloma cells.