An internal tandem duplication (ITD) of the FLT3 gene is found in nearly 20% of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and 5% of myelodysplastic syndrome cases. Our serial studies on 51 samples with the FLT3 gene mutation indicated that the ITD was frequently (47/51) clustered in the tyrosine-rich stretch from codon 589 to 599 and rarely (3/51) in its downstream region, both of which are located within the juxtamembrane (JM) domain. One remaining sample had an insertion into the JM domain of nucleotides of unknown origin. To elucidate the biological relevance of the ITD or the insertion, we expressed various types of mutant FLT3 in Cos 7 cells. All mutant FLT3 studied were ligand-independently dimerized and their tyrosine residues were phosphorylated. The Y589 of FLT3 was essential for the phosphorylation in the wild FLT3, but a Y589F conversion did not affect the phosphorylation status of the mutant FLT3. These findings suggest that the elongation of the JM domain rather than increase of tyrosine residues causes gain-of-function of FLT3. Thus, ITD is a novel modality of somatic mutation which activates its product. Since the DNA corresponding to codon 593 to 602 potentially forms a palindromic intermediate, we propose that a DNA-replication error might be associated with generating the ITD of the FLT3 gene.