We studied the expression of multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP) in normal haemopoietic cells from peripheral blood and bone marrow. The MRP mRNA levels were estimated by RT/PCR and in situ hybridization (ISH) assay, and the protein levels by flow cytometry. 21 samples of peripheral blood and 21 samples of bone marrow (11 normal bone marrow donors, 10 patients in complete remission after chemotherapy for large cell lymphoma or acute myeloid leukaemia) were analysed. In peripheral blood the mean MRP mRNA level in CD3+ cells was statistically higher than in the other cells (3-fold by the methods used). The levels of MRP in CD3+ varied from one individual to another (4.5-34.8 units by RT/PCR and 5-23 grains/cell by ISH); however, this was proportional to the variation in all the cell lineages of same individual (r = 0.84). In bone marrow the mean MRP levels of the various cell lineages (including CD34+) were similar to the basal level in HL60 cells. Individual expression levels were again variable; however, there was no difference between untreated normal bone marrow and post chemotherapy normal bone marrow. MRP protein expression was determined by flow cytometry with the monoclonal antibody MRPm6. The CD4+ lymphocytes exhibited a higher MRP protein expression than the other cell lineages, including CD8+ cells. There was a good correlation between the three methods used (RT/PCR and ISH, P = 0.0001, r = 0.87; RT/PCR and flow cytometry, P = 0.0001, r = 0.85; ISH and flow cytometry, P = 0.002, r = 0.67).