Résumé : We studied the pattern of BCR involvement in 52 patients with chronic myeloid leukemia by Southern blotting. Of 33 Philadelphia (Ph)-positive patients, 30 had evidence of M-BCR rearrangement, two cases were difficult to interpret, and one clearly lacked evidence of M-BCR rearrangement. Of 19 Ph-negative patients, nine showed M-BCR rearrangement, nine showed no rearrangement, and one result was uncertain. We selected for more detailed study eight patients (three Ph-positive and five Ph-negative). Two of the Ph-positive patients, whose Southern blots were difficult to interpret, had rearranged bands when the BCR gene was studied by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Results of PFGE studies and in situ hybridization to metaphase chromosomes in the third Ph-positive patient, whose DNA clearly lacked M-BCR rearrangement on Southern analysis, were consistent with a breakpoint on chromosome 22 located 3' of all known exons of the BCR gene. However, mRNA studied with the polymerase chain reaction showed evidence of a classical b2-a2 linkage. The findings in this patient may be explained by an unusual genomic breakpoint downstream of the BCR gene associated with long range splicing that excluded all of the 3' BCR exons. Of the five patients with Ph-negative M-BCR non-rearranged CML studied by PFGE for BCR gene rearrangement, none had evidence of rearranged bands. We conclude that PFGE is a valuable adjunct to standard molecular techniques for the study of atypical cases of CML. Occasional patients with Ph-positive CML have breakpoints outside M-BCR. The BCR gene is probably not involved in patients with Ph-negative, M-BCR non-rearranged CML.