A number of fusion genes have been identified by study of acquired chromosomal translocations. Their detailed characterization has provided insights into mechanisms of leukaemogenesis and has enabled the development of molecular methods to assist in the diagnosis and monitoring of residual disease after treatment. The TEL-AML1 fusion gene is associated with a cryptic t(12;21)(p12;q22) translocation, and is the commonest known genetic abnormality in childhood B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), occurring in about 25 percent of cases. We have used RT-PCR, followed by Southern blotting and direct sequencing, to establish the incidence of TEL-AML1 rearrangement in 131 adults with acute leukaemia (101 with ALL and 30 with chronic myeloid leukaemia in blastic crisis). Three patients were positive for TEL-AML1 transcripts. All three had common-ALL. All other patients were negative for TEL-AML1. We conclude that the TEL-AML1 fusion gene is found in adult ALL, though less commonly than in children.