Human myeloma cells were purified from bone marrow aspirates from patients with multiple myeloma (MM) by Percoll discontinuous density- gradient centrifugation, E rosette formation and treatment with antimyelomonocytic antibody (Leu M1), plus complement. Thus, the purified cell fraction consisted of greater than 90% myeloma cells, even when as little as 15% myeloma cells were contained in bone marrow mononuclear cell fraction, determined by morphological and immunologic examinations. With highly purified myeloma cells from 29 patients with IgG type MM, biologic characteristics such as spontaneous proliferation (3H-TdR uptake) and M-protein secretion rate in vitro were evaluated. Both activities varied among patients within stage I and III, and a 3H- TdR uptake of 255–24, 132 cpm/4 x 10(4) cells, and an M-protein secretion rate of 9 to 72 pg/cell/day, respectively, were recorded. However, in each patient, there was no correlation between 3H-TdR uptake and M-protein secretion rate. These results thus suggest that 3H- TdR uptake and M-protein secretion rate of highly purified myeloma cells are independent biologic parameters, not associated with the clinical stages, and the purification of myeloma cells we describe can contribute to further studies on the biologic characteristics and to understanding of the pathophysiology involved in MM.