A cell line with immature blast cell morphology was isolated from HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cell cultures and designated HL-T. This new cell type is biphenotypic, expressing terminal transferase (TdT) together with myelomonocytoid immunologic features. TdT enzymatic activity, undetectable in HL-60, was determined to be 140 to 180 units/10(8) HL-T cells by the dGTP-assay, approximately 20% of the activity found in lymphoblastoid cell lines. HL-T predominantly synthesize the known 58- kDa TdT-protein plus a minor 54/56-kDa doublet. The 58-kDa steady state form is nonglycosylated and is phosphorylated. Precursor antigens S3.13 and MY-10, absent on HL-60, are expressed by HL-T; however, the cells are negative for HLA-Dr. Southern blot analysis by hybridization with immunoglobulin heavy chain (JH) and T cell-receptor chain gene (T beta) probes shows JH to be in the germ-line configuration in both cell lines and the T beta gene to be in germ-line in HL-60 but to be rearranged in HL-T. Truncation of the gene encoding the granulocyte-macrophage-colony- stimulating factor (GM-CSF), as found in HL-60, is not observed in HL- T. HL-T are resistant to differentiation-induction by retinoic acid and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Cytogenetically HL-T share with HL-60 a deletion of the short arm of chromosome 9 at breakpoint p13, an aberration frequently found in patients with T cell leukemia. In addition, HL-T display t(8;9)(p11;p24) and trisomy 20. Tetraploidy is observed in 80% of HL-T metaphases with aberrations identical to those in the diploid karyotype. Like HL-60, the new line shows some surface- antigenic-T cell characteristics. Despite an antigenic pattern most consistent with that of helper-inducer T cells (T4+, D44+/-, 4B4+, 2H4- , TQ1+/-), HL-T cells and their conditioned culture medium suppress antigen, mitogen, and mixed-leukocyte-culture-mediated lymphocyte proliferation.