The t(11;14)(q13;q32) and its molecular counterpart, BCL1 rearrangement, are consistent features of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Rearrangement is thought to deregulate the nearby CCND1 (BCL1/PRAD1) proto-oncogene, a member of the cyclin G1 gene family, and thereby to contribute to tumorigenesis. We and others have previously shown that the BCL1 locus is rearranged in 55% to 60% of MCL patients and that, on chromosome 11, more than 80% of the breakpoints are localized within a 1-kbp DNA segment known as the major translocation cluster (MTC). We have determined the nucleotide sequence for a portion of the MTC region, and constructed chromosome 11-specific oligonucleotides that were in conjunction with a consensus immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain joining region (JH) primer used to perform the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify t(11;14) chromosomal junctional sequences in DNA from 16 MCL patients with breakpoints in the MTC region. 15 of the 16 breakpoints that occurred at the MTC region were amenable to PCR detection. The sizes of the amplified bands, the existence or not of a Sac I site in the PCR products, and nucleotide sequencing of the amplified DNA from four patients showed that the breakpoints share a remarkable tendency to tightly cluster within 300 bp on chromosome 11, some of them occurring at the same nucleotide. On chromosome 14, the breakpoints were localized within the Ig JH. Our findings indicate that a BCL1 rearrangement can be detected using this approach in roughly one half of the MCL patients. This has implications for both the diagnosis and the clinical management of MCL.