Résumé : Whether chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a latent or a proliferating disease has been intensively debated. Whilst the dogma that CLL results from accumulation of dormant lymphocytes is supported by the unresponsiveness of leukaemic cells to antigens and polyclonal activators, recent in vivo kinetic measurements indicate that B lymphocytes do divide at significant rates in CLL. However, an important and still unanswered question is whether CLL cells proliferate faster or slower compared with their normal counterparts. This report addressed directly this point and compared B-cell kinetics in CLL subjects and healthy controls, using a pulse-chase approach based on incorporation of deuterium from 6,6-(2)H(2)-glucose into DNA. We confirmed that B cells proliferated at significant levels in CLL but found that the proliferation rates were reduced compared with healthy subjects (mean 0.47 vs. 1.31%/d respectively, P = 0.007), equivalent to an extended doubling time of circulating B cells (147 d vs. 53 d). In conclusion, CLL B cells proliferate at reduced levels compared with healthy controls. CLL is thus characterized by an aberrant B-cell kinetics with a decrease in cell turnover, an observation that may impact on elaboration of efficient therapeutic strategies.