The chromosomal translocation, t(8;21), is found frequently in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with maturation (FAB-M2). We have previously mapped the translocation breakpoints of t(8;21) in a specific intron of the AML1 gene on chromosome 21. In this study, we cloned cDNAs synthesized from a cell line carrying t(8;21) by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using an AML1-specific primer. The analysis of the cDNAs structure has led to the identification of the fusion of AML1 with a gene named MTG8 on chromosome 8, which seems to be identical to ETO. Northern analysis using MTG8 (ETO) probes detected 7.8-kb and 6.2-kb RNAs and several minor RNAs in the cell line with t(8;21), but failed to detect any transcripts in a cell line without t(8;21). A set of primers were designed to detect the AML1/MTG8(ETO) fusion by PCR. The PCR amplified identical products in all 6 patients and one cell line with t(8;21), suggesting that the AML1/MTG8(ETO) fusion is a constant feature associated with t(8;21) and the junctions of the AML1/MTG8(ETO) fusion are restricted in a unique site. Because the PCR detection of the AML1/MTG8(ETO) fusion at the RNA level is highly sensitive, it can be used as a sensitive method for diagnosis and detection of minimal residual disease in t(8;21) leukemia.