B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) is a disease characterized by an accumulation of monoclonal lymphocytes of B cell origin. Although the neoplastic process involves the B lymphocyte compartment, phenotypic and functional defects within the T lymphocyte population implicate their possible role in the pathogenesis of the disease. We analyzed the functional and morphological integrity of T lymphocytes from the peripheral blood of 64 patients with B-CLL. The activation of B-CLL T cells after PHA stimulation was determined by measuring [3H]-thymidine incorporation, assessing cell numbers in parallel cultures, and by monitoring the lymphocyte subsets during 9 days of cultivation. Our results indicate the presence of three functionally different populations of T cells in the peripheral blood of B-CLL patients. We present evidence for an increased proliferative potential of T lymphocytes from a group of patients with B-CLL.