Little data exists in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries regarding the biological characteristics of adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In this study, we performed a flow cytometric analysis of 267 Thai adult AML cases to delineate the pattern of leukemic cell surface antigens. Forty-eight cases (18%) were identified as acute promyelocytic leukemia (M3) and 219 cases as non-M3. The most frequent subtype of AML in Thailand was M1/M2 and the least frequent was M7. M3 immunophenotypes were characterized by their unique lack of expression of CD34 and HLA-DR as contrast to the high mean expression of 50% and 70%, respectively, in non-M3. Overall, 60% of cases expressed CD34. Aberrant lymphoid antigens were uniquely seen in specific subtypes of Thai AML, including CD19 (33% of non-M3 vs 23% of M3) and CD2 (12% of M3 vs 2% of non-M3). CD56 was frequently expressed in both M3 and non-M3 while CD16 appeared to be associated with M4/M5 (24% of cases) and CD7 with M1/M2 (21% of cases). Eighty-one percent of non-M3 expressed CD38 while only 53% of M3 did. We found that most Thai adult AML patients were on average 15-20 years younger than those of the West or Japan with only 25% of Thai cases over 60 years of age, although the immunophenotypes were not markedly different. Biological studies of acute leukemia in various countries should help to provide epidemiological clues that play a role in the pathogenesis of leukemia in different geographic regions of the world. Our study represents the largest series of AML ever investigated in the Southeast Asian region.