Similar to two other hematopoietic growth factor receptors, the c-fms (macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor) and the c-kit genes, c- mpl has been discovered through the study of oncogenic retroviruses. Unlike c-fms and c-kit, which both belong to a subgroup of tyrosine kinase receptors, the c-mpl proto-oncogene encodes a new member of the cytokine receptor superfamily. We have studied the expression of c-mpl in a series of 105 patients with hematologic malignancies using Northern blot analysis. The levels of c-mpl transcripts in lymphoid malignancies and in chronic myeloproliferative disorders were not significantly different from those found in normal bone marrow cells, in which c-mpl was barely detectable. In contrast, c-mpl expression was increased in 26 of 51 patients with acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML) and in 5 of 16 patients with myelodysplastic syndromes. Amplification of the c-mpl gene was detected in genomic DNA of one M4 AML patient. There was no significant correlation between c-mpl expression and the French-American-British classification of AML. Patients with high c-mpl expression appeared to belong to a subgroup of AML with a low rate of complete remission and a poor prognosis, including secondary leukemia and AML with unfavorable cytogenetic abnormalities.