AIMS: To determine the distribution of tenascin in normal and pathological bone marrow. METHODS: 48 different bone marrow lesions were studied immunohistochemically using a monoclonal antibody to tenascin. RESULTS: Tenascin immunoreactivity was found in lesions with increased fibrosis and high numbers of reticular fibres. The strongest immunoreactivity was found in myelofibrosis. Bone marrow from acute and chronic myeloid and lymphatic leukaemias showed weak or moderate immunoreactivity. In hyperplasias inconsistent reticular tenascin immunoreactivity was found; in normal bone marrow, only a few scattered positive fibres were occasionally seen. CONCLUSIONS: Tenascin was generally observed in conditions in which megakaryocytic hyperplasia was a feature. This is in line with the notion that tenascin synthesis in bone marrow fibroblasts is stimulated by TGF-beta which is synthesised by the megakaryocytic lineage. Tenascin also contains EGF-like repeats. It might therefore function as a growth promoter and in this way could also stimulate synthesis of other matrix components. On the other hand, tenascin could function as an adhesive molecule to some cells of the bone marrow. The presence of tenascin in many pathological states of the bone marrow suggests that it may have a role in their pathogenesis and that it also could be a potential marker of disease.