A rapid and simple functional assay for P-glycoprotein (Pgp) using flow cytometry to measure the accumulation of the flurophore fluo-3 has been applied to samples from patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (B-CLL). Peripheral blood lymphocytes from 37 patients with B-CLL were studied for Pgp. Pgp expression, using MRK-16, a monoclonal antibody recognising an external surface epitope of Pgp, was detected in 92% of patients with B-CLL. The functional assays for Pgp expression were positive in 78 and 59% of patients using the fluo-3 and doxorubicin (dox) assays, respectively. When compared with the MRK-16 assay, the fluo-3 assay had a sensitivity of 82% compared to a sensitivity of 56% for the dox assay (P = 0.004). The specificity of the fluo-3 and dox assays could not be evaluated because of the low number of MRK-16 negative CLL cells.