Analysis of the rearranged immunoglobulin variable region gene hypermutation has provided important information concerning the clonal history and ontogenetic origin of various B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders. Under the selective pressure of antigen, mutational events in immunoglobulin genes will fine tune survival of B-cell clones bearing immunoglobulin with high affinity for antigen. Our studies aimed at analyzing neoplastic disorders originating from germinal and post-germinal center B-cells: follicular lymphoma and multiple myeloma, respectively. Despite the already acknowledged evidence for a selectable distribution of mutations within the clonal immunoglobulin variable heavy chain genes, very little is known about the contribution of light chains in the process of antigen selection. In follicular lymphoma, a more limited pattern of somatic mutation with less evidence of antigen selection was observed in variable κ light chain genes (40%) than in their partner heavy chain genes (80%). In myeloma, hypermutation of variable light chain genes, with a distribution suggestive of antigen selection, was frequently observed. Based on these data and recent reports it appears that the light chain expressed by the clonogenic myeloma B-cells plays a pivotal role in the antigen selection process. Additionally, abortive κ light chain variable region genes in λ-expressing myelomas carried a significant number of somatic mutations indicating that the cell of origin is open to the hyper-mutation machinery at that particular developmental stage irrespective of antigen selection.