We performed a flow cytometric analysis using monoclonal antibodies to decay accelerating factor (DAF) and CD59/membrane attack complex inhibitory factor (CD59/MACIF) in order to investigate the leukemic cells and erythrocytes from a patient with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) who developed acute myelocytic leukemia. In May 1990, the leukemic cells comprised 70% of the mononuclear cells in the bone marrow and 76% of those in the peripheral blood. They consisted of a mixture of positive and negative populations, including single DAF- positive cells. In August 1990, almost 100% of the peripheral mononuclear cells were leukemic blasts, and these consisted of a single population with reduced DAF expression. Single-color flow cytometric analysis showed that the leukemic cells lacked CD59/MACIF, while control leukemic cells (n = 3) expressed both DAF and CD59/MACIF. Leukemic blasts from this patient and six control patients expressed lymphocyte function-associated antigen 3 and FcIII receptors (CD 16) both before and after treatment with phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C. The patient's erythrocytes lacking DAF and CD59/MACIF expression corresponded to the proportion of complement-sensitive cells at the onset of acute leukemia. These DAF- and CD59/MACIF-deficient erythrocytes disappeared almost completely with progression of the leukemia. In conclusion, it appears that the expression of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked membrane proteins by leukemic cells was heterogeneous and discordant in our patient, and that the leukemic cells were derived from the PNH clone because of their deficiency of CD59/MACIF. It is also suggested that DAF could compete more effectively than CD59/MACIF for a limited number of anchor molecules available on the proliferating leukemic cells.