The Ets transcription factor Fli-1 is preferentially expressed in hematopoietic tissues and cells, including immature T cells, but the role of Fli-1 in T cell development has not been closely examined. To address this we retrovirally overexpressed Fli-1 in various in vitro and in vivo settings and analysed its effect on T cell development. We found that Fli-1 overexpression perturbed the DN to DP transition and inhibited CD4 development whilst enhancing CD8 development both in vitro and in vivo. Surprisingly, Fli-1 overexpression in vivo eventuated in development of pre-T cell lymphoblastic leukaemia/lymphoma (pre-T LBL). Known Fli-1 target genes such as the pro-survival Bcl-2 family members were not found to be upregulated. In contrast, we found increased NOTCH1 expression in all Fli-1 T cells and detected Notch1 mutations in all tumours. These data show a novel function for Fli-1 in T cell development and leukaemogenesis and provide a new mouse model of pre-T LBL to identify treatment options that target the Fli-1 and Notch1 signalling pathways. © 2013 Smeets et al.