The translocation (8;21) is a chromosome abnormality associated with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). As a consequence of the translocation the AML1 (CBFA2) gene in the 21q22 region is fused to the ETO(CDR,MTG8) gene in the 8q22 region, resulting in one transcriptionally active gene on the 8q- derivative chromosome. In this report we demonstrate the use of a highly specific dual-colour FISH method for the detection of t(8;21) on interphase cells. Genomic probes able to detect the chimeric AML1/ETO gene on the 8q- derivative chromosome were assayed on both normal and leukemic bone marrow and peripheral blood samples. Cut-off values were established by independent analysis of 15 bone marrow specimens negative for the translocation. The cut-off value of positive nuclei was determined to be 2% and the cut-off value for both positive nuclei and nuclei of uncertain classification, 4%. Persistence of cells above these cut-off values was interpreted as persistence of the mutated clone. A total of 36 samples at different disease stages were tested. Interphase cytogenetics detected the translocation at the onset and relapse in the BM or the PB of 14 AML patients with t(8;21). The technique appears to be an alternative tool to both conventional cytogenetics and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for the monitoring of disease during patients' follow-up. By enabling the analysis of individual cells, interphase FISH is ideal for clonality studies both for clinical and experimental applications.