A liver-fluke-associated cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), comparable to that occurring in humans, was induced by exposing Opisthorchis viverrini-infected hamsters to dimethylnitrosamine (DMN). Tumor masses were removed and histopathologically identified, then one portion was extracted for antigens used in the production of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). The remaining portions were used to establish CCA cell lines. The antigens produced and secreted by these cell lines, as well as those originally present in the tissue extracts, possessed a 200-kDa glycoprotein that appeared to be immunologically distinct from other tumor markers. A specific MAb called 6E5 was used to set up a sandwich ELISA for the quantification of this antigen in the serum and bile of tumor-bearing animals. The assay system was sensitive enough to detect the antigen at concentrations below 10 ng/ml. The serum and biliary levels of this antigen were markedly elevated in animals with progressive tumors when compared with untreated controls. The serum taken serially from each animal that subsequently developed CCA showed a gradual but significant elevation of the antigen as carcinogenesis progressed. A few isolated animals exhibited a slight elevation of the antigen at a time as early as the end of DMN treatment, when the CCA should not yet have developed, judging from microscopic examination. The data from this animal model suggested that the CCA-associated soluble antigen defined by MAb 6E5 was a useful marker for the detection of tumors at an early stage of development.