To clarify the biological characteristics of adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), immunophenotyping and DNA aneuploid analysis were performed in 72 ATL cases, using flow cytometric techniques. DNA aneuploidy was found in 45 cases (62.5%); the DNA index ranged from 1.03 to 2.16 (mean: 1.24). The incidence of aneuploidy in smoldering, chronic, acute, and lymphoma ATL subtypes was 20.0%, 46.6%, 76.3%, and 77.8%, respectively. The aneuploid patients had a greater tumor burden (adenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly, and leukocytosis with ATL cells), a higher level of serum LDH, and a higher incidence of hypercalcemia, compared with the diploid group. Further, unusual aberrant immunophenotypes were identified predominantly in the aneuploid group. Patients with aneuploidy had a 7.6 month median survival time (MST) with a 2 year survival rate of 24.6%, significantly worse than in the patients with diploidy, whose MST was 25.4 months with a 2 year survival of 60.1%. In some aneuploid patients, the disease often progresses from a static to an aggressive form. Thus, the determination of aneuploidy and unusual immunophenotype should be useful for detecting clinical behavior and for monitoring ATL patients, particularly in regard to such progression.