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BRAF V600E mutations are present in virtually all cases of hairy cell leukemia (HCL). We hypothesized that detection of phospho-ERK (pERK) in tissue sections may be a useful marker for diagnosis of HCL. pERK/CD20 double immunostaining was performed on 90 formalin-fixed bone marrow trephine samples affected with small B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders, including 28 cases of HCL. pERK staining was observed in all 28 cases of HCL and in 1 of 62 cases of non-HCL B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders. By allele-specific polymerase chain reaction, all 11 cases of HCL with available DNA were positive for BRAF V600E, as was the 1 pERK+ non-HCL case. The remaining 31 non-HCL cases tested were negative for BRAF V600E. The sensitivity and specificity of pERK for diagnosis of HCL was 100% and 98%, respectively. We conclude that the presence of pERK as detected by immunohistochemical staining is a useful surrogate marker for BRAF V600E in the diagnosis of HCL.