Thirty cases of newly diagnosed pediatric acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML) with French-American-British (FAB) M2 morphology were analyzed with cytogenetics and a comprehensive panel of monoclonal antibodies reactive with lymphoid-, natural killer (NK)-cell-, and myeloid- associated antigens. The t(8;21)(q22;q22), or t(8;21;V)(q22;q22;V), translocation was identified in 16 of the 30 cases. Cases with the t(8;21) did not differ significantly from the remaining M2 cases with respect to expression of CD11b, CD13, CD14, CD15, CD33, CD34, CD36, CD41a, CD42b, CDw65, TdT, or HLA-DR. Expression of the B-cell antigen CD19 was detected in 13 of the 16 t(8;21) cases (81%), but in only 1 of the 14 (7%) other M2 cases (P = .00006). Expression of the CD56 NK-cell antigen was also significantly more frequent among t(8;21) cases (63% v 14%; P = .01). Coexpression of CD19 and CD56 was found only in the t(8;21) group (9 of 16 cases, P = .0009). Furthermore, this phenotype was not found in 48 evaluable cases of de novo AML of the FAB M1, M3, M4, M5, or M7 subtypes. The 14 M2 AML cases lacking the t(8;21) commonly expressed CD2 (n = 5) or CD7 (n = 8). However, no case with the t(8;21) expressed either antigen (P = .01 and .0005, respectively). Thus, the t(8;21) biologic subgroup of pediatric M2 AML has distinct immunophenotypic characteristics that distinguish it from other types of de novo AML.