NELL1 and NELL2 (neural epidermal growth factor-like 1 and 2) are recently described members of the epidermal growth factor gene family that have previously been shown to be expressed almost exclusively in brain tissue. Here we demonstrate regulated expression of NELL1 and NELL2 in human hematopoietic cells. Mature NELL1 mRNA is not detected in any normal hemopoietic cell type, although the gene is transcribed during a narrow window of pre-B cell development, and cell lines at the same developmental stage express the NELL1 mRNA. The related NELL2 gene is expressed by all nucleated peripheral blood cells examined (B, T, monocyte, and natural killer cells), but not in any of the bone marrow B lineage cells at earlier stages of development. However, leukemic cell lines corresponding to the same early differentiation stages express abundant NELL2 mRNA. These results suggest normal and possible oncogenic roles for the NELL proteins in hemopoietic cells.