Background: The pTα/preTCR regulates the β-selection, a crucial T-cell developmental checkpoint, providing a most potent survival advantage to thymocytes mediated by the src-kinase p56Lck.Methods: To define the relevance of pTα in human T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), we analyzed in T-ALL cell lines (n=14) pTα and p56Lck mRNA and protein expression as also the tyrosine-phosphorylation. The p56Lck specific src-protein-tyrosine kinase inhibitor (PTK-I) PP1 was used in growth inhibition assays. IC50 value determination, cell cycle- and apoptosis analyses were performed in T-ALL-, non-T-ALL- and murine transgenic cell lines.Results: pTα expression patterns were markedly different in T-ALL cell lines as compared to those reported for normal lymphoid counterparts. PP1 induced in 6/11 T-ALL cell lines a survival disadvantage resulting from a cell cycle arrest in the G1/0 phase in thymic lymphoblastic cells and apoptosis induction in the immature cell line HSB-2, respectively. PP1 sensitive cell lines expressed the target protein p56Lck and showed a corresponding P-Tyr signal.Conclusions: Sensitivity of thymic T-ALLs to PP1 clearly underlines the impact of pTα mediated proliferation in this leukemic sub-type. In addition, p56Lck represents also independently of pTα a promising therapeutical target for the src-kinase inhibitors in neoplastic lymphoid diseases.