DNA methylation of the CpG-rich 5' region of the deoxycytidine kinase (dCK) gene is potentially involved in the suppression of the gene and the resistance of tumour cells to arabinosylcytosine (ara-C). 2-Chlorodeoxyadenosine (cladribine, CdA) and 2-chloro-2'-arabino-fluoro-2'-deoxyadenosine (CAFdA) are purine nucleoside analogues which are also phosphorylated by dCK. We observed a reduction in dCK activity in a number of CCRF-CEM-derived cell lines that are resistant to these drugs and hypothesized that this reduction is due to DNA methylation of the 5' region of the dCK gene. The DNA methylation state was analyzed at the DNA sequence level after bisulfite modification of genomic DNA. The investigated region included 0.3 kb of DNA upstream to the start site of transcription, exon 1 and part of intron 1. Sensitive cells (CCRF-CEM/0) and three resistant cell lines (CCRF-CEM/CdA4000, CCRF-CEM/CAFdA100 and CCRF-CEM/CAFdA4000) were investigated. The region that was analyzed contained no methylated cytosine residues in the parental cell line CCRF-CEM/0 or in the resistant cell lines. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that DNA methylation plays a role in the suppression of dCK gene expression in these cell lines.