Abstract We studied 58 childhood B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) in Brazilian sample patients at the time of diagnosis to investigate the prevalence of the cryptic t(12;21)(p13;q22). All bone marrow specimens were G-band karyotyped, and commercial dual-color DNA probes were used to search for fusion signals in nuclei. The karyotype analysis showed hyperdiploidy as the most frequent abnormality. The frequency of patients with TEL/AML1 gene fusion was 19% (11 out of 58 cases). Six of the positive samples had normal karyotypes. Deletion of the wild-type TEL allele was observed in 27.3% of TEL/AML1 fusion–positive cases, but it was also identified in 4.2% of the negative cases. Three cases presented two fusion signals, indicating possible duplication of the der(21). The mean age of the patients with TEL/AML1 fusion was 4.8 years and the mean amount of peripheral leukocytes was 44,270×10 6/L. The higher frequency of females with B-ALL (33/58 cases) observed in our sample was probably due to the selection mode of the study cases. The prevalence of TEL/AML1 fusion in Brazilian children in our study is similar to that found in other populations.