A gene-transfer approach was used to explore the function of the BCL2 (B-cell lymphoma/leukemia 2) gene in a human T-cell line, Jurkat. Though stable introduction of a BCL2 expression plasmid into Jurkat T cells was by itself insufficient, the combined transfer of BCL2 and MYC genes markedly enhanced the tumorigenicity of these cells in athymic mice. Moreover, a BCL2 antisense expression plasmid ablated tumor formation by Jurkat cells, providing further evidence that this oncogene contributes to the regulation of the in vivo growth of these human T lymphocytes. In addition to their influence on tumor formation, BCL2 sense and antisense expression plasmids increased and decreased, respectively, the in vitro survival of Jurkat T cells in serum-free medium. These observations extend to T cells the finding of synergy of BCL2 with MYC previously reported for B cells and provide evidence that BCL2 can regulate the growth of human T cells.