The purpose of this report is to compare measurements of enzymatic activities and cell surface markers as methods of distinguishing subtypes of lymphoid leukemias of childhood. Twenty-six children ages 2- 15 yr were studied. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) activity was high in blasts from all 20 children with either null or T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The activity of adenosine deaminase per cell was higher (P less than 0.005) and that of TdT lower (p less than 0.05) in T than in null cell lymphoblasts, although there was some overlap in values. Blasts from 3 children with acute lymphoid leukemia were positive for surface-associated immunoglobulins. The neoplastic lymphoid cells from these children differed from T and null cell leukemic lymphoblasts by having very low levels of TdT and adenosine deaminase activity. Measurements of adenosine deaminase and TdT may complement measurements of cell surface markers and distinguish biochemical subtypes of acute lymphoid leukemia.

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