To test the transforming potential of deregulated P40/Interleukin 9 expression, we transfected a mouse P40-dependent T cell line with P40 cDNA, and examined the tumorigenicity of the resulting transfectants. When the cells, which grew autonomously in vitro, were injected intraperitoneally or subcutaneously into syngeneic mice, a very high tumor incidence was observed with as few as 10(4) cells per inoculum. Animals died as a result of widespread dissemination of lymphomatous tissue to abdominal and thoracic organs. The same P40-dependent cell line transfected with a control construct did not form tumors even after injection of 10(7) cells. These results indicate that uncontrolled expression of P40 can support T cell proliferation in vivo, and may be a transforming event involved in the development of certain T cell tumors.