Of 144 adult Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) entered on study E2993 at the time of analysis, 104 had informative immunophenotypes and molecular analysis by polymerase chain reaction for BCR/ABL fusion transcripts. In 23 patients (22%), BCR/ABL transcripts were detected: the ALL-typical e1a2 alone in 12, e1a2 + b2a2/b3a2 in five, and b2a2 and/or b3a2 in six. Of BCR/ABL-positive patients, 83% had early pre-B ALL, one patient had pre-T ALL, while half of the BCR/ABL-negative patients had early pre-B ALL, 18% had CD10-negative pro-B ALL and 21% were pre-T. When antibodies to both the interleukin-2 receptor alpha (CD25) and beta chain (CD122) were tested, CD25 was expressed significantly more frequently in BCR/ABL-positive (median 23% positive blast cells, range 1-84%) than BCR/ABL-negative patients (median 3%, range 0-69%) (P = 0.00006). There was no corelation with CD122 expression. Therefore, CD25 expression may serve as a surrogate marker for BCR/ABL positivity (Philadelphia chromosome), the major poor prognostic parameter in adult ALL.