Members of the Bcl-2 family of proteins, Bcl-2, Bcl-X(L), Bcl-Xs and Bax, are considered to play important roles in the regulation of apoptosis and drug resistance. To understand the significance of these proteins in fresh human myeloma cells, expression of Bcl-2 family of proteins was analyzed by Western blotting in 17 cases with multiple myeloma (MM) and three cases with plasma cell leukemia (PCL). Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L) were found in 12 and nine samples, respectively. All PCL cases showed co-expression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L). Analysis of MM cases showed that Bcl-2 was preferentially expressed in samples from cases with early clinical stage while Bcl-X(L) tended to be expressed in samples from cases at advanced clinical stage. Bcl-X(L) was significantly expressed in tumor cells from cases with extramedullar lesions. There was no correlation between the expression levels of Bcl-2 or Bcl-X(L) and preceding chemotherapy. Expression of Bax was found in only one patient who had pleural effusion caused by invasion of myeloma cells and a high serum LDH level. Survival analysis revealed that there was no statistical significance in expression of Bcl-2 or Bcl-X(L) although Bcl-X(L) tended to be expressed in cases with poor prognosis. These findings indicate that expression of Bcl-2 family of proteins is heterogeneously regulated in fresh myeloma cells. Expression of Bcl-X(L) and Bcl-2 may correlate with extramedullar invasion and early stage of the disease, respectively. Absence of Bax in myeloma cells may contribute to low sensitivity of myeloma cells to anti-cancer agents since Bax is reported to mediate cytotoxicity of some anti-cancer drugs.