A t(14;18) (q32;q21) chromosome translocation is closely associated with the follicular lymphoma, which is prevalent in the United States, and the t(14;18) causes the juxtaposition of a bcl-2 gene on chromosome 18 with an immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene locus on chromosome 14. Genomic DNAs from 30 Japanese patients with follicular lymphoma were examined for the molecular features by Southern blot hybridization. Using probe b for the major breakpoint cluster region of a bcl-2 gene, the rearrangements were detected in eight patients. Six of the eight patients had breakpoints located within the major breakpoint region, while two had breakpoints outside this cluster region but within the region of the 7.5-kb SstI fragment containing the probe b sequence. In two patients, pFL-2 probe detected the bcl-2 gene rearrangements that occurred near or within the minor breakpoint cluster region. These ten patients had a rearranged JH-containing fragment that migrated with the rearranged bcl-2 fragment. In the other 20 patients, these two chromosome 18-specific DNA probes did not detect the bcl-2 rearrangements. Compared with studies performed in the United States, the statistical analysis indicates a significant difference in frequency of the bcl-2 gene rearrangements near or within the major breakpoint cluster region (P = 0.0027) and the minor breakpoint cluster region (P = 0.029). However, the distribution difference of these events was not significant.