Teratocarcinoma differentiation has been studied using sera specific for each of the five intermediate filament (IF) classes. These antibodies distinguish cells of epithelial, muscle, neural, astrocytic, and mesenchymal origin. In embryoid bodies, derived from embryo transplants and obtained in the ascitic fluid by transplantation of teratocarcinoma, the cells of the inner cellular mass did not express any of these intermediate filament types while the outer cells expressed cytokeratin. Intermediate filament expression in the embryoid body thus appears analogous to that in the blastocyst and differs from that in embryonal carcinoma (EC) lines. Twelve EC lines have now been shown to express vimentin although in some EC lines not all cells express vimentin. Other established permanent differentiated cell lines, derived from EC lines in vitro or from tumors in vivo, have been characterized with respect to the type of IF they contain. The distribution of different IF types has been examined in EC cells induced to differentiate by addition of retinoic acid. The proportion of cells expressing each type of intermediate filament appears to depend on the EC cell line used, on the inducing agent, and on the length of treatment. Thus, for instance, F9 cells express cytokeratin, PCC3 derivatives express vimentin, many 1009 derivatives express either glial fibrillar acidic protein (GFA) or neurofilament proteins. Overall the results obtained are in excellent agreement with emerging principles of intermediate filament expression during embryonic differentiation, thus emphasizing the potential use of the various EC lines to study differentiation in culture.