We studied the clinical, hematologic, cytogenetic, and molecular biologic features of seven patients with Philadelphia (Ph1) chromosome- negative chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). In five cases the hematologic findings were indistinguishable from those of patients with classical Ph1-positive disease. Myeloid cells were studied by chromosome-banding techniques. One patient had a masked Ph1 chromosome (with translocation t(4;9;22)), one had a deletion involving chromosome 16, and one had a small minority population of 22q- cells without 9q+ but otherwise normal metaphases; metaphases from the other four patients were entirely normal. DNA prepared from the myeloid cells was digested with the restriction enzymes EcoRI, HindIII, BamHI and BglII. Southern analysis using a 0.6-kb fragment of the breakpoint cluster region (bcr) gene showed the presence in each patient's DNA of a germline fragment together with a rearranged fragment or fragments with at least one of the restriction enzymes. We conclude that genomic changes in the bcr gene characteristic of CML can be present in the absence of a Ph1 chromosome.