Physicochemical and immunologic properties of delta-aminolevulinate (ALA) dehydratase in human K562 erythroleukemia cells were examined. ALA dehydratase activity was found to increase in K562 cells after treatment with butyric acid or selenium oxide. Enzyme activity in untreated K562 cells was comparable to that in normal adult erythrocytes but was increased three- to six-fold in K562 cells treated with 1.2 mmol/L butyric acid or 0.03 mmol/L selenium oxide. The Michaelis-Menten constant (Km), the inhibitor constant (Ki), and elution profile by diethylaminoethyl (DEAE) cellulose chromatography were similar for ALA dehydratase from K562 cells and normal human adult and human fetal erythrocytes. However, ALA dehydratase from K562 cells did not react with a monospecific rabbit antibody against ALA dehydratase purified from normal adult erythrocytes, although the antibody reacted with the enzyme from normal adult and fetal red cells. These findings indicate that ALA dehydratase in K562 cells is immunologically distinct from the normal enzyme.