The CD30+ anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) represents a new lymphoma entity thought to be related to Hodgkin'S disease (HD), but displaying also its own unique features. Cytogenetic studies of ALCL have demonstrated the presence of a (2;5)(p23;q35) translocation in a substantial number of these cases. Recently, the t(2;5) has been cloned and described to represent fusion of the NPM gene with the ALK gene on chromosome 5. To better define the spectrum of lymphomas containing this abnormality we have analyzed 50 continuous human cell lines established from various types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, ALCL and HD. In a first step, the expression of the NPM-ALK fusion gene was examined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In a second step, the t(2;5)-carrying cells were tested for the translation of functional chimeric mRNA into a fusion protein by immuno-staining of single cells with a polyclonal antibody. The NPM-ALK fusion transcript and the p80 protein were detected in eight of nine ALCL cell lines. We were unable to find PCR evidence for the t(2;5) in any of the non-ALCL cell lines including other CD30+ cell lines. As all seven bona fide HD cell lines were NPM-ALK-negative, these results do not support the notion that the t(2;5) represents a chromosomal aberration common to both ALCL and HD.