The reactivity with monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) specific for myelomonocytic cells and the expression of a particular esterase isoenzyme were analyzed in 159 cases of acute myeloid leukemias. The incidence of positivity of 16 MoAbs (MCS-2, MCS-1, OKM1, My-1, Leu-M1, Leu-M3, CA-2-38, MY4, MY7, MY8, MY9, VIM-D2, VIM-D5, Mo1, Mo2, 63D3) was studied using the indirect immunofluorescence technique. A carboxylic esterase isoenzyme which can be inhibited completely and selectively by sodium fluoride (NaF) was demonstrated by isoelectric focusing on horizontal polyacrylamide gels. This NaF-sensitive isoenzyme indicated the monocytic origin of the blast cells as it is specific for this cell lineage. Prior to the immunological-isoenzymatic analysis all cases were categorized into two subtypes according to morphological criteria of the FAB classification system: 147 cases of AML (FAB M1-3) and 12 cases of AMMoL/AMoL (FAB M4/5). However, 15 out of 147 cases of AML expressed the NaF-sensitive isoenzyme and were therefore assigned to the group AMMoL/AMoL. Likewise, 1 case, diagnosed morphologically as AMMoL, was negative for this marker isoenzyme and was assigned to the other leukemia subtype. The incidence of reactivity varied widely for the MoAbs tested regarding the overall results on all cases and the positivity of cases of either AML or AM-MoL/AMoL. The MoAbs were grouped into four classes depending on the pattern of reactivity with myeloblastic or monoblastic or both subtypes of acute myeloid leukemia. The MoAbs MCS-2, MY7, Leu-M1, and MY9 detected the vast majority of cases with either myelocytic or monocytic involvement (group-I: "pan-myelomonocytic" reactivity). The MoAbs MCS-1, OKM1, VIM-D5, and Mo1 showed a predominance in their staining pattern for monocytic variants, but were also positive on a substantial percentage of nonmonocytic cases (group-II: predominantly reactive with monocytic, but also myelocytic cases). The MoAbs Leu-M3, MY4, VIM-D2, Mo2, and MY8 reacted with the large majority of AMMoL/AMoL cases and with a small number of AML cases (group-III: monocyte-"specific" reactivity). The MoAbs of group-I are useful in differentiating acute lymphoid from acute myeloid leukemias. The MoAbs of group-III, and to a lower extent those of group-II, will be of considerable value in the subtyping of acute myeloid leukemias. The results show that accuracy of leukemia classification might not always be achieved by morphology alone, but that immunological and biochemical aspects should be included as well, and several MoAbs are very useful tools for classification and subtyping of acute myeloid leukemias.