Blood lymphocytes from tumor patients were cocultivated with allogeneic lymphocytes (MLC) or autologous tumor cells (ATS), and their cytotoxicity was characterized. The main objective of the study was the lysis of autologous tumor biopsy cells by such effectors. Lymphocytes of patients activated in MLC lysed allogeneic third-party cells and in some cases also lysed autologous tumor cells. Allogeneic but not autologous PHA blasts were also damaged by these effectors. The cytotoxic potential of MLC-activated lymphocytes from healthy donors was similar; allogeneic tumors and phytohemagglutinin (PHA) blasts but not autologous PHA blasts were lysed. The cytotoxicity of lymphocytes activated in ATS were specific for the stimulator because they acted only on the autologous tumor cells. Allogeneic tumors and autologous and allogeneic PHA blasts were not lysed. The pattern of cytotoxicity with regard to this target panel was maintained when the MLC or ATS cultures were further propagated with TCGF. Results obtained in cold target competition assays suggested (a) activated lymphocyte lyse the third party tumor targets because of alloantigen recognition; (b) in MLC several different sets of alloreactive cytotoxic lymphocytes are present simultaneously; and (c) the alloreactive cells are different than those that act on the autologous tumor cells. Thus, the lysis of allogeneic tumor cells by lymphocytes of the patient is not due to recognition of cross-reacting tumor-related antigens, and the autotumor cytotoxicity of the patients' MLC-activated lymphocytes if performed by specifically reacting cells.