Chromosomal translocations involving band 3q27 and various chromosomal sites, including the sites of the immunoglobulin (Ig) loci (14q32, 2p12, 22q11), represent recurrent aberrations in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). In order to identify the putative protooncogene involved in these translocations, we have cloned the breakpoints from two B-cell NHL cases carrying t(3;14)(q27;q32) translocations by screening genomic DNA libraries constructed from NHL biopsy samples with immunoglobulin probes. Several recombinant phages have been obtained from each case and shown to contain sequences from both 14q32 and 3q27 by fluorescence in situ hybridization mapping on metaphase chromosomes. In both cases, the translocation breakpoints were found within the switch region of the Ig heavy-chain locus on 14q32 and within the same 3-kilobase region on 3q27. When used in Southern blot hybridization, a probe from the 3q27 region detected rearrangements in an additional five NHL cases carrying 3q27 translocations with 14q32 or other genomic sites. The same probe detected a predominant 2.4-kilobase mRNA species in several lymphoid cell lines analyzed by Northern blot hybridization. These data suggest that chromosomal breakpoints in 3q27 cluster in the proximity of a transcribed gene which represents a candidate protooncogene (bcl-6) involved in B-cell NHL pathogenesis.