Myeloma cells consist of immature, intermediate and mature cells with respect to expression of VLA-5 (CD49e) and MPC-1 adhesion molecules. VLA-5(-)MPC-1(-) immature myeloma cells respond to interleukin 6 (IL-6) to proliferate in vitro. but VLA-5+MPC-1+ mature myeloma cells have almost no proliferative activity with higher secretory activity of M-protein in vitro. In order to further clarify the biological differences between these immature and mature myeloma cells, we examined survival of these cells with or without IL-6 in vitro, and investigated the underlying mechanism of the proliferative or non-proliferative character of these cells by examining expression of cell cycle regulators such as cyclin D1 and inhibitors for cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk), p16INK4A, p21CIP1 and p27KIP1 by RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. In vitro survival of these myeloma cells was examined by flow cytometric quantification of fluorescein diacetate (FDA) and propidium iodide (PI) staining. Immature myeloma cells rapidly entered apoptosis without IL-6, but mature myeloma cells could survive without IL-6 as well as normal mature plasma cells. Immature myeloma cells as well as myeloma cell lines expressed cyclin D1 mRNA and protein, but not any Cdk inhibitors. On the other hand, mature myeloma cells did not express cyclin D1 but expressed p16, not p21 or p27, as well as normal mature plasma cells. Therefore these results show that immature myeloma cells constitutively express cyclin D1 and can proliferate, and mature myeloma cells as well as normal mature plasma cells preferentially express p16 and can survive for a long time without proliferation.