Microsatellite instability (MSI) is thought to represent a defect of the DNA mismatch repair system which has been implicated in the tumourigenesis of several human malignancies. We investigated MSI in acute/ lymphomatous adult T-cell leukaemia (ATL: n=22) using 54 highly polymorphic dinucleotide short-tandem repeat sequences. The corresponding control DNA from each individual was obtained from the peripheral blood in either chronic phase (n=5) or when complete remission was achieved (n=17). 10/22 (41%) patients had MSI, six of whom showed MSI in multiple loci; four loci had MSI in multiple samples. The incidence of MSI in ATL was found to be higher than in other haematological malignancies, indicating MSI as a feature of ATL, which may be involved in the progression of the disease.