We previously isolated cDNA clones, MLL-a and MLL-b, derived from the 11q23 breakpoint region and detected gene rearrangements with MLL-b cDNA in infantile leukemia cell lines with 11q23 abnormalities. We also showed chimeric mRNAs between MLL and genes on partner chromosomes such as 4q21 and 19p13. In the present study, we isolated overlapping MLL cDNA clones of 11 kb and demonstrated that MLL-a and MLL-b were derived from the same gene, MLL/ALL-1/HRX. Northern analysis with an MLL cDNA probe detected different signals in t(11;19) cell lines, one being sized 10 kb in two cell lines, KOCL-33 and KOCL-44, and the other being 9.2 kb in the cell line, KOPN-1. To elucidate the molecular basis for the heterogeneity, we isolated cDNA clones of a translocation-associated gene on chromosome 19, LTG19, as well as chimeric cDNAs from KOPN-1. Northern analysis with LTG19 cDNA demonstrated the identical gene, encoding serine/proline rich 559 amino acid polypeptide, to be involved in all three cell lines. Sequence comparison revealed that the LTG19 portion of the predicted chimeric protein of KOPN-1 was fused in frame and contained the C-terminal 189 amino acids. This was shorter by 366 amino acids than those of KOCL-33 and KOCL-44, also fused in frame. Reverse transcriptase-PCR analysis demonstrated complex chimeric mRNAs in cell lines and leukemia samples. Although a chimeric mRNA of KOPN-1 type was rare, its presence suggested that the shared C-terminal portion of 189 amino acids of LTG19 contains important signal(s) for malignant transformation.