A new cell line, designated MO1043, was established from the peripheral blood (PB) of a patient with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Both the PB leukemia cells and MO1043 were found to have an abnormal cytogenetic marker of trisomy 12, the most common cytogenetic abnormality in CLL. In addition, both the PB cells and MO1043 expressed a cell surface phenotype of typical B-CLLs. The MO1043 was efficiently transplanted into X-irradiated athymic nude mice by i.p. inoculation after it was subjected to serial passages in new born (1 week old) and irradiated adult nude mice. The tumor of a CLL cell line (termed CLL tumor) was also generated in the nude mice by s.c. inoculation of the cells. The MO1043 was inoculated i.p. into mice with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) which had not been subject to any preconditionings. The CLL tumor in the non-conditioned SCID mice was disseminated to various tissues in a manner more analogous to CLL tumors in patients as compared with nude mice, where the CLL tumors were not as widely disseminated. At each of four different tumor doses, i.e. 2 x 10(6), 6 x 10(6), 1.8 x 10(7) and 5.4 +/- 10(7) cells of MO1043, the transplantability was 100%. Titration experiments revealed a reciprocal relationship between survival and the number of tumor cells inoculated. FACS analysis showed that several cell surface markers of the parental MO1043 were maintained in CLL tumors from nude and SCID mice. Fluorescence in situ hybridization with novel DNA probes demonstrated that CLL tumors of both nude and SCID mice maintained trisomy 12. The CLL tumor models developed here, particularly the SCID mouse model, may be very useful for therapeutic studies of CLL.