B7-I (CD80) provides co-stimulation for T-cell activation by interacting with CD28 or CTLA4. Here we demonstrate the expression of B7-I in freshly isolated and cultured lymphocytes from renal-cell carcinoma. In fresh preparations of lymphocytes infiltrating renal-cell-carcinoma tissue, B7-1 mRNA could readily be detected by reverse transcription PCR, and 2-color flow- cytometry analysis revealed substantial B7-1 expression on T cells from these isolates. As expected, tumor-derived T cells also expressed CD28, the B7 receptor. While B7-1 expression of tumor-derived T cells was maintained during culture in interleukin-2-supplemented medium, CD28 expression was further enhanced. We also show that B7-I is functionally involved in T-cell expansion: anti-B7-1 MAb inhibited the PHA-induced proliferation of tumor-derived B7-1+ T cells (35%) in the absence of exogenous antigen-presenting cells, indicating that B7-1 mediates T-T cell co-stimulation (self-co-stimulation). Our data demonstrate that T cells infiltrating renal-cell carcinoma express B7-I, and that mutual co-stimulation via the B7-I/ CD28 pathway contributes to the interleukin-2-driven expansion of tumor-derived T cells in vitro. The frequency of B7-1+ T cells in tumor lesions and the level of B7-I on these cells may determine the time course of T-cell expansion in vivo. Self-co-stimulation, however, might also represent one mechanism leading to the state of suppression or anergy characteristic of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.