Our purpose was to evaluate the ability of blood monocytes of renal cancer patients to become cytotoxic against fresh, autologous tumor cells. Fresh target cells were obtained by mechanical and enzymatic dissociation of tumor and normal renal tissue. The A375 cell line, derived from a human melanoma, and the SW626 cell line, derived from a human ovarian carcinoma, were used as positive target cell controls. Monocytes from renal cancer patients and normal volunteers were activated in vitro with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), or muramyl tripeptide (MTP-PE), or multilamellar vesicle liposomes containing MTP-PE (MLV-MTP-PE), with or without a pre-incubation with r-IFN-γ, and tested for cytotoxicity in a 72-hr 111Indium-release assay. All patients were tumor-free at the time of the monocyte study. No difference in cytotoxic activity was observed between monocytes from healthy volunteers and those from cancer patients. Freshly dissociated tumor cells were as susceptible to tumoricidal monocytes as the 2 cell lines. Moreover, no cell population appeared to be resistant to activated monocytes, which were cytotoxic to both allogeneic and autologous fresh tumor cells. Activated monocytes maintained their ability to discriminate between normal and neoplastic cells and were not cytotoxic against autologous or allogeneic normal non-neoplastic cells. Our data indicate that MLV MTP-PE liposomes activate peripheral blood monocytes from cancer patients to a tumoricidal status against fresh, dissociated non-cultured autologous tumor cells.