The configuration of the MYC gene in diffuse large cell lymphomas (DLCL) with translocations involving band 8q24 [t(8q24)] has not been systematically studied. We collected cytogenetic and clinical data on 171 consecutive cases of DLCL, including cleaved, noncleaved, and immunoblastic types, of which 96 had DNA available and 124 had abnormal karyotypes. The cases with DNA available were evaluated for MYC rearrangement (MYC-R) by Southern hybridization of EcoRI-digested tumor DNA using an exon-1 probe, a combination of probe and enzyme known to detect over 85% of breaks in sporadic Burkitt's lymphoma. In cases studied at diagnosis, MYC-R, t(8;14)(q24;q32), or other t(8q24) were not prognostically significant. Among the 124 cases with karyotypic abnormalities, seropositivity for human immunodeficiency virus was significantly more common in cases with a t(8q24) (72%) than in cases without it (9%) (P less than .05). Of the four cases with an MYC -R, two had a t(8;14), one had a t(7;8;14)(p15;q24;q32), and one had a t(8;?)(q24;?) and a del(8)(q24). In the three previous cases with translocations involving 8q24 and 14q32, comigration of the rearranged MYC band with either the J region or the switch-mu region of the Ig heavy chain gene could not be demonstrated, leaving the 14q32 breakpoint undefined at the molecular level. Among the remaining 72 cases where both an abnormal karyotype and molecular data were available, 11 had a t(8q24), either t(8;14) or t(8;22)(q24;q11), in the absence of an MYC-R. In these cases, the 8q24 break was presumably located outside of the EcoRI MYC fragment. All 15 cases with a t(8q24) were also screened for point mutations in the PvuII site in the first exon of MYC; two cases that were not MYC-R showed loss of this restriction site. These results indicate that in most DLCL with t(8;14) or other t(8q24), the 8q24 breakpoint lies away from the MYC gene; in a minority of these cases, point mutations in regulatory noncoding regions were detected.