NY-ESO-1, a member of the CT (cancer/testis) family of antigens, is expressed in normal testis and in a range of human tumor types. Knowledge of NY-ESO-1 expression has depended on RT-PCR detection of mRNA and there is a need for detecting NY-ESO-1 at the protein level. In the present study, a method for the immunochemical detection of NY-ESO-1 in paraffin-embedded tissues has been developed and used to define the expression pattern of NY-ESO-1 in normal tissues and in a panel of human tumors. No normal tissue other than testis showed NY-ESO-1 reactivity, and expression in testis was restricted to germ cells particularly spermatogonia. In human tumors, the frequency of NY-ESO-1 antigen expression corresponds with past analysis of NY-ESO-1 mRNA expression e.g., 20–30% of lung cancers, bladder cancers and melanoma, and no expression in colon and renal cancer. Co-typing of NY-ESO-1 antigen and mRNA expression in a large panel of lung cancers showed a good correlation. There is great variability in NY-ESO-1 expression in individual tumors, ranging from an infrequent homogeneous pattern of staining to highly heterogeneous antigen expression. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.