Peripheral blood granulocytes from patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) were studied for accessibility of membrane sialic acid and galactose residues to sodium borohydride-3H radiolabeling after oxidation with sodium metaperiodate (PI/B3H4) or with galactose oxidase (GO/B3H4). Granulocytes from untreated patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia showed increased radiolabeling with PI/B3H4, and decreased labeling with GO/B3H4 when compared to normal granulocytes. Granulocytes from leukemic patients receiving chemotherapy showed normal labeling patterns. Gel electrophoresis of membrane extracts showed that the changes in PI/B3H4 and GO/B3H4 reactivity of CML cells were distributed over all membrane protein bands. Our data suggest that CML granulocyte membrane proteins are aberrantly sialylated, with decreased accessibility of galactose residues, and that these changes may be reversed by clinical drug treatment.