A chimeric immune receptor consisting of an extracellular antigen-binding domain derived from the CC49 humanized single-chain antibody, linked to the CD3zeta signaling domain of the T cell receptor, was generated (CC49-zeta). This receptor binds to TAG-72, a mucin antigen expressed by most human adenocarcinomas. CC49-zeta was expressed in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and induced cytokine production on stimulation. Human T cells expressing CC49-zeta recognized and killed tumor cell lines and primary tumor cells expressing TAG-72. CC49-zeta T cells did not mediate bystander killing of TAG-72-negative cells. In addition, CC49-zeta T cells not only killed FasL-positive tumor cells in vitro and in vivo, but also survived in their presence, and were immunoprotective in intraperitoneal and subcutaneous murine tumor xenograft models with TAG-72-positive human tumor cells. Finally, receptor-positive T cells were still effective in killing TAG-72-positive targets in the presence of physiological levels of soluble TAG-72, and did not induce killing of TAG-72-negative cells under the same conditions. This approach is being currently being utilized in a phase I clinical trial for the treatment of colon cancer.