Reduced expression of the major-histocompatibility-complex(MHC)-class-I antigens has been demonstrated in renal-cell carcinoma (RCC), and appeared to be associated with deficiencies in the expression and function of different components of the MHC-class-I-antigen-processing pathway and poor recognition by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL). In order to investigate the role of peptide transporters for the immunogenic phenotype of RCC, tumor cells were stably transfected with the human TAP1A gene. While the TAP1 transfectants showed heterogeneous TAP1-transgene expression pattern of mRNA and protein, high TAP1 expression and a TAP-controlled increase in MHC-class-I surface expression could be achieved in selected transfectants. IFN-gamma up-regulates the expression of MHC-class-I antigens and TAP1 both in control and in TAP1-transfected RCC cells to a similar level. No additive effect of TAP1 over-expression was observed in TAP1 transfectants. Although no enhanced CTL-mediated lysis was obtained, cytokine release was substantially increased in response to TAP1-transfected RCC cells, but not to control cells. Furthermore, TAP1 transfectants were able to stimulate the proliferation of allogeneic T cells. These studies suggest that abnormalities of MHC-class-I surface expression due to dysfunctional peptide transporters contribute to the immune escape phenotype of RCC cells and that the immune tolerance of RCC could be altered by TAP1-gene transfer.