Monoclonal antibodies and T cells modified to express chimeric antigen receptors specific for B-cell lineage surface molecules such as CD20 exert antitumor activity in B-cell malignancies, but deplete normal B cells. The receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 1 (ROR1) was identified as a highly expressed gene in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL), but not normal B cells, suggesting it may serve as a tumor-specific target for therapy. We analyzed ROR1-expression in normal nonhematopoietic and hematopoietic cells including B-cell precursors, and in hematopoietic malignancies. ROR1 has characteristics of an oncofetal gene and is expressed in undifferentiated embryonic stem cells, B-CLL and mantle cell lymphoma, but not in major adult tissues apart from low levels in adipose tissue and at an early stage of B-cell development. We constructed a ROR1-specific chimeric antigen receptor that when expressed in T cells from healthy donors or CLL patients conferred specific recognition of primary B-CLL and mantle cell lymphoma, including rare drug effluxing chemotherapy resistant tumor cells that have been implicated in maintaining the malignancy, but not mature normal B cells. T-cell therapies targeting ROR1 may be effective in B-CLL and other ROR1-positive tumors. However, the expression of ROR1 on some normal tissues suggests the potential for toxi-city to subsets of normal cells.