- The expression of the MDR1 gene was studied by Northern blot analysis in leukaemic cell specimens obtained from 74 patients with acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML). No relationship was found between MDR1 RNA levels and FAB type of leukaemia or patient age. Transcript levels tended to be highest in the leukaemic cells of patients with a history of toxic exposure or preleukaemia compared with 'standard risk' patients at diagnosis but the differences were not significant (P = 0.07). Patients whose leukaemic cells contained high MDR1 transcript levels were difficult to induce into remission and, if remission was induced, the remissions were short. Hence high levels of MDR1 expression may explain, at least in part, the ineffectiveness of anthracycline antibiotic containing treatment regimens in some patients with AML.