Flow cytometric techniques have emerged as a powerful tool in hematology allowing fast, sensitive and reproducible multiparametric analyses at the single cell level of heterogeneous samples. Small subsets of cells can be studied with high degree of accuracy, and a broad and constantly increasing specter of antibodies is available. Flow cytometry has therefore become the method of choice for evaluation of therapeutic effects at single cell level. These methodological approaches can easily be used to study hematological malignancies, and the future use of this strategy in other malignancies will depend on the development of laboratory techniques to prepare suspensions of viable cells also from tumor biopsies. The selection of biological parameters for evaluation of treatment effects should probably be based on (i) molecular markers involved in cancer-associated genetic abnormalities; (ii) other molecular markers showing altered expression in the malignant cells and thought to be involved in leukemogenesis or having a prognostic impact; (ii) functional assays known to reflect biological characteristics that are important in carcinogenesis (e.g. cell cycle distribution, fu nctional evaluation of apoptosis regulation). These molecules will in addition often represent the therapeutic targets when new anticancer drugs are developed. In this review we use treatment of acute myeloid leukemia with histone deacteylase inhibitors as an example. Based on the criteria mentioned above we suggest that the monitoring of therapeutic effects on the cancer cells in these patients should include differentiation status, histone acetylation, cell cycle distribution, pro- and anti-apoptotic signaling balance and intracellular levels of various transcription factors.