The t(14; 18) chromosomal translocation of human follicular B-cell lymphoma juxtaposes the bcl-2 gene with the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus. The bcl-2 immunoglobulin fusion gene is markedly deregulated resulting in inappropriately elevated levels of bcl-2 RNA and protein. Transgenic mice bearing a bcl-2 immunoglobulin minigene demonstrate a polyclonal expansion of resting yet responsive IgM-IgD B cells which display prolonged cell survival but no increase in cell cycling. Moreover, deregulated bcl-2 extends the survival of certain haematopoietic cell lines following growth-factor deprivation. By using immunolocalization studies we now demonstrate that Bcl-2 is an integral inner mitochondrial membrane protein of relative molecular mass 25,000 (25k). Overexpression of Bcl-2 blocks the apoptotic death of a pro-B-lymphocyte cell line. Thus, Bcl-2 is unique among proto-oncogenes, being localized to mitochondria and interfering with programmed cell death independent of promoting cell division.