Creatine kinase (CK; EC 184.108.40.206) isoenzyme BB extracted from brains of rats reportedly undergoes modification at 37 degrees C, leaving an electrophoretic variant that accounts for most of the residual CK activity. This variant, called CK-BB', migrates on electrophoresis similarly to creatine kinase isoenzyme MB. Using electrophoresis and immunoinhibition with antiserum to creatine kinase isoenzyme MM, we found CK-BB to be the only identifiable cytoplasmic isoenzyme in surgical samples from human brain and intestine. In contrast, we found that some samples of brain obtained at autopsy contain CK-BB'. We also found that CK-BB extracted from human brain was converted to CK-BB' upon incubation in serum or plasma at 37 degrees C. We found a similar development of CK-BB' in incubation mixtures of serum or plasma containing CK-BB obtained from surgical samples of human intestine. The development of CK-BB' during infarction of the gastrointestinal system may thus be a source of false-positive CK-MB in the laboratory verification of myocardial infarction when electrophoresis is used as the only method to identify CK isoenzymes.