Recently, a distinctive entity characterized by expression of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) protein [most frequently due to the t(2;5)(p23;q35)-associated NPM-ALK fusion] has emerged within the heterogenous group of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL) classified as anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL). Sporadic variant 2p23/ALK abnormalities identified in ALK-positive ALCL indicate that genes other than NPM may also be involved in the deregulation of ALK and lymphomagenesis. We report here three cases with an inv(2)(p23q35) detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) in young male patients with ALK-positive ALCL. In contrast to ALCL cases with the classical t(2;5)(p23;q35) that usually show both cytoplasmic and nuclear or predominantly nuclear alone localization of the NPM-ALK chimeric product, in all three cases with an inv(2)(p23q35) the ALK protein accumulated in the cytoplasm only, supporting the previous assumption that the oncogenic potential of ALK may not be dependent on its nuclear localization. As the first step to identify the ALK partner gene involved in the inv(2)(p23q35), we performed extensive FISH studies and demonstrated that the 2q35 breakpoint occurred within the 1,750-kb region contained within the 914E7 YAC. Moreover, a striking association of the inv(2)(p23q35) with a secondary chromosomal change, viz, ider(2)(q10)inv(2)(p23q35), carrying two additional copies of the putative ALK-related fusion gene, was found in all three patients, suggesting that, in contrast to the standard t(2;5)/NPM-ALK fusion, multiple copies of the putative 2q35-ALK chimeric gene may be required for efficient tumor development. In summary, we demonstrate that the inv(2)(p23q35), a variant of the t(2;5)(p23;q35), is a recurrent chromosomal abnormality in ALK-positive ALCL, the further characterization of which should provide new insight into the pathogenesis of these lymphomas.