Microtubular reorganisation contributing to apoptotic morphology occurs in normal and neoplastic cells undergoing apoptosis induced by cytotoxic drugs [1-3]. The aim of this study was to correlate the changes in the microtubules (MTs) with behavior of the centrosome in apoptotic cells, and to see whether post-translational changes in tubulin occurred with the emergence of apoptotic MT bands. Apoptosis was induced in the human T-cell leukaemia line (CCRF-CEM) by treatment with 17 microM etoposide over a 4 h period. The time course of changes was assessed using flow cytometry (FCM) and immunocytochemistry in cells labelled for a centrosomal antigen (CSP-alpha) or alpha-tubulins. One hour following treatment we observed multiple centrosomal microtubule organising centres (MTOCs) associated with the nucleus and the transient appearance of a subset of stable MTs detected with an antibody specific for acetylated alpha-tubulin, as the bands of MTs which lobulate the nucleus are formed. The altered properties of the MTs thus reflect changes in function as apoptosis progresses.