We report gene expression and other analyses to elucidate the molecular characteristics of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children with Down syndrome (DS). We find that by gene expression DS-ALL is a highly heterogeneous disease not definable as a unique entity. Nevertheless, 62% (33/53) of the DS-ALL samples analyzed were characterized by high expression of the type I cytokine receptor CRLF2 caused by either immunoglobulin heavy locus (IgH@) translocations or by interstitial deletions creating chimeric transcripts P2RY8-CRLF2. In 3 of these 33 patients, a novel activating somatic mutation, F232C in CRLF2, was identified. Consistent with our previous research, mutations in R683 of JAK2 were identified in 10 specimens (19% of the patients) and, interestingly, all 10 had high CRLF2 expression. Cytokine receptor-like factor 2 (CRLF2) and mutated Janus kinase 2 (Jak2) cooperated in conferring cytokine-independent growth to BaF3 pro-B cells. Intriguingly, the gene expression signature of DS-ALL is enriched with DNA damage and BCL6 responsive genes, suggesting the possibility of B-cell lymphocytic genomic instability. Thus, DS confers increased risk for genetically highly diverseALLs with frequent overexpression of CRLF2, associated with activating mutations in the receptor itself or in JAK2. Our data also suggest that the majority of DS children withALL may benefit from therapy blocking the CRLF2/JAK2 pathways.