The aim of this study was to evaluate the tissue infiltration and phenotypic adhesion profile of 5T2 multiple myeloma (MM) and 5T33 MM cells and to correlate it with that observed in human disease. For each line, 30 mice were intravenously inoculated with myeloma cells and at a clear-cut demonstrable serum paraprotein concentration; mice were sacrificed and a number of organs removed. The haematoxylin-eosin stainings on paraffin sections were complemented with immunohistochemistry using monoclonal antibodies developed against the specific MM idiotype. When analysed over time, 5T2 MM cells could be observed in bone marrow samples from week 9 after transfer of the cells. For the 5T33 MM, a simultaneous infiltration was observed in bone marrow, spleen and liver 2 weeks after inoculation. Osteolytic lesions consistently developed in the 5T2 MM, but this was not consistent for 5T33 MM. PCNA staining showed a higher proliferative index for the 5T33 MM cells. The expression of adhesion molecules was analysed by immunohistochemistry on cytosmears: both 5T2 MM and 5T33 MM cells were LFA-1, CD44, VLA-4 and VLA-5 positive. We conclude that both lines have a phenotypic adhesion profile analogous to that of human MM cells. As the 5T2 MM cells are less aggressive than the 5T33 MM cells, their organ distribution is more restricted to the bone marrow and osteolytic lesions are consistently present, the former cell line induces myeloma development similar to the human disease.