Antiapoptotic members of the bcl-2 family have recently been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a hematopoietic neoplasm associated with the BCR/ABL oncogene. We have examined expression of MCL-1 in primary CML cells and BCR/ABL-transformed cell lines. Independent of the phase of disease, isolated primary CML cells expressed myeloid cell leukemia-1 (mcl-1) mRNA and the MCLA protein in a constitutive manner. The BCR/ABL inhibitor imatinib (=ST1571) decreased the expression of MCLA in these cells. Corre- sponclingly, BCR/ABL enhanced mcl-1 promoter activity, mcl-1 mRNA expression, and the MCL-1 protein in Ba/F3 cells. BCR/ABL-dependent expression of MCL-1 in Ba/F3 cells was counteracted by the mitogen-activated protein-kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MEK) inhibitor, PD98059, but not by the phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, LY294002. Identical results were obtained for constitutive expression of MCL-1 in primary CML cells and the CML-derived cell lines K562 and KU812. To investigate the role of MCL-1 as a survival-related target in CML cells, mcl-1 siRNA and mcl-1 antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) were applied. The resulting down-regulation of MCL-1 was found to be associated with a substantial decrease in viability of K562 cells. Moreover, the mcl-1 ASO was found to synergize with imatinib in producing growth inhibition in these cells. Together, our data identify MCL-1 as a BCR/ABL-dependent survival factor and interesting target in CML.