The BCL2 protooncogene encodes an inner mitochondrial membrane protein that blocks programmed cell death. BCL2 was isolated from the chromosomal breakpoint of follicular B-cell lymphoma. Transgenic mice that overexpress BCL2 display extended survival of resting B cells. In this study we use a monospecific anti-human BCL2 antibody to define the distribution of BCL2 protein within organized tissues. BCL2 is restricted within germinal centers to the follicular mantle and to portions of the light zone implicated in the selection and maintenance of plasma cells and memory B cells. BCL2 is present in the surviving T cells in the thymic medulla. All hematopoietic lineages that derive from a renewing stem cell also display BCL2. A limited number of nonlymphoid tissues demonstrate BCL2 and can be grouped as (i) glandular epithelium in which hormones or growth factors regulate hyperplasia and involution, (ii) complex differentiating epithelium such as skin and intestine characterized by long-lived stem cells, and (iii) long-lived postmitotic cells such as neurons. Within these tissues that demonstrate apoptotic cell turnover, BCL2 is often topographically restricted to long-lived or proliferating cell zones. BCL2's function as an antidote to apoptosis may confer longevity to progenitor and effector cells in these tissues. (.