Cytofluorimetric detection of the multidrug resistance (MDR)-associated membrane protein (P-170) was performed at the time of diagnosis in 158 patients with acute myeloid leukemia using the C219 monoclonal antibody (MoAb). In 108 of these cases the JSB1 MoAb was also tested. An improved histogram subtraction analysis, based on curve fitting and statistical test was applied to distinguish antigen-positive from antigen-negative cells. A marker was considered positive when more than 20% of the cells were stained. At onset, P-170 was detected in 43% of cases with C219 and in 73% of cases with JSB1. There was a strict correlation between C219 and JSB1 positivity, as all C219+ cases were also positive for JSB1 MoAb (P < .001). No relationship was found between sex, age, organomegaly, and MDR phenotype. Significant correlation was found between CD7 and both C219 and JSB1 expression (P < .001 and .001, respectively). C219-negative phenotype was more often associated with a normal karyotype (24 of 55 with P = .030). Rhodamine 123 (Rh123) staining and flow cytometry analysis showed a significantly decreased mean fluorescence in 51 C219+ and 38 JSB1+ patients compared to 42 MDR negative ones (P < .001). The rate of first complete remission (CR) differed both between C219+ and C219- cases and between JSB+ and JSB- ones (30.9% v 71.1% and 35.4% v 93.1%, respectively, P < .001). Of the 21 C219+ patients who had yielded a first CR, 19 (90.4%) relapsed, compared with 28 of 64 (43.7%) C219- patients (P < .001). Of the 28 JSB1+ patients in first CR, 17 (60.7%) relapsed relative to 8 (29.6%) of 27 JSBI- ones (P = .021). A higher rate of relapses among MDR+ compared with MDR- patients was observed both for C219 and JSB1 MoAbs taken separately (C219 80% v 44%; JSB1 52% v 27%), with no relationship to age. The survival rates (Kaplan-Meyer method) were significantly shorter both in C219+ patients and in JSB1+ cases (P < .001). Disease-free survival curves followed this same trend. The combination (C219- JSB1+) identified a subset of patients with an intermediate outcome compared to C219 positive cases. The prognostic value of both markers (C219 and JSB1) was confirmed in multivariate analysis. These results suggest that the assessment of MDR phenotype by flow cytometry may be an important predictor of treatment outcome.