HOX11 is a proto-oncogene, which is silent in normal mature T-cells, while being aberrantly activated in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) by translocations t(10;14)(q24;q11) or t(7;10)(q35;q24). Although many oncogenes are expressed in alternative forms in cancer, thus far, only one form of the human HOX11 transcript has been reported. We describe here the identification of three alternative transcripts of the HOX11 proto-oncogene, expressed in primary T-ALL specimens. Using rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) and targeted RT-PCR, we have sequenced 23 individual cDNA clones characterising these novel transcripts. Northern hybridisation identified particular novel exons expressed in T-ALL, which are not expressed in normal T-cells. To date, aberrant expression of HOX11 has only been associated with leukaemia. Our survey of a range of neuroblastoma and primitive neuroectodermal tumour (PNET) cell lines demonstrated the expression of these novel HOX11 transcripts in tumours of neural origin, while their expression was not detected in normal brain tissues. Strikingly, the dominant transcript in these neural tumour cell lines is more than 1 kb larger than the dominant transcript in T-ALL. These observations, combined with sequence data from several EST clones derived from medulloblastoma cDNA libraries, support a new hypothesis that HOX11 may also function as a neural oncogene or brain tumour marker.