This paper summarizes experimental data and theoretical considerations, that are important for the measurement of P-glycoprotein (Pgp) function in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The data are presented in subdivisions based on the techniques used, which will facilitate finding specific information. Based on our extensive experience with Pgp analysis, which includes radioactive assays, flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy, we recommend a flow cytometry-based assay, that measures the effect of 2 microM PSC 833 on rhodamine 123 (R123) accumulation as the most practical and sensitive functional Pgp test. In combination with the flow cytometric measurement of Pgp using an antibody against an extracellular epitope (eg MRK16), this offers a sensitive and reproducible method for Pgp detection in AML, which is also rapid and practical. Furthermore, an R123 accumulation assay is specific for Pgp, because R123 is transported much less efficiently by the multidrug resistance protein (MRP) than by Pgp. Another probe of similar sensitivity and specificity is 3,3'-diethyloxacarbocyanine iodide. Alternatively, especially for the analysis of small numbers of cells (for example sorted subpopulations of leukemic cells), convenient and sensitive procedures are being developed by using DNA-binding Pgp substrates which remain fixed in the nuclei of the cells upon formaldehyde exposure for quantitative fluorescence laser scanning microscopy with image analysis. Less experimental data have been published to establish the optimal conditions for dual parameter flow cytometry (Pgp function, in eg Pgp+ or CD34+ cells). However, laboratories with flow cytometry experience will be able to implement this useful option to analyze subpopulations of cells.