Induction of differentiation of a human promyelocytic leukemic cell line (HL60) in culture is accompanied by changes in acid phosphatase (Acpase) activity. The increase in activity is less than twofold when the leukemic cells are stimulated by dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) to differentiate into metamyelocytes and granulocytes but is eightfold when the cells are stimulated by the tumor-promoting agent 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA) to differentiate into macrophage-like cells. Five different isozymes of Acpase were separated by acrylamide gel electrophoresis. Isozyme 1, the most anodal isozyme, was found to be present in undifferentiated, DMSO-treated and TPA-treated cells; isozyme 2 was a very faint band observed both in DMSO- and TPA-treated cells, the isoenzymes 3a and 3b were present only in TPA-induced cells; and isozyme 4, the most cathodal isozyme, was present both in TPA- and DMSO-induced cells. A time sequence study on the appearance of the various forms after TPA treatment indicated that the expression of the isozymes is regulated in an uncoordinated fashion. Acpase activity has been shown by ultrastructural cytochemistry to be localized in the entire rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) and in areas of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) located near the Golgi complex in differentiating cells but to be extremely weak, if at all detectable, in undifferentiated promyelocytes.