Analysis of fresh human tumors have indicated that patients with B type lymphoproliferative diseases and the majority of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) express elevated levels of p53 production. It is suggested that in these human malignancies, p53 may provide a novel tool for monitoring cancer activity. Conversely, p53 is not expressed in acute myeloid leukemias, myeloproliferative diseases, or myeloid leukemic cell lines. Analysis of the p53 gene structure indicated the existence of similar patterns of p53 restriction fragments in producer and nonproducer cells, which suggests that the p53 gene is not altered in the latter. However, in one case of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), we have observed a rearrangement in the p53 gene. Karyotype analysis has indicated that these APL cells do not contain the typical 15;17 translocation. In other APL patients who exhibit a 15;17 translocation, we found no genomic changes of the p53, suggesting that the p53 gene, which was recently mapped to the short arm of chromosome 17 in the human, is not structurally related to the typical chromosomal break point found in the long arm of chromosome 17 of APL patients.