This study is designed to establish a pulmonary tumour model to investigate the biology and therapy of lung cancer in mice. Current methods for forming a solitary intrapulmonary nodule and subsequent metastasis to mediastinal lymph nodes are not well defined. Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cell suspensions were orthotopically introduced into the lung parenchyma of C57/BL6 mice via a limited skin incision without thoracotomy followed by direct puncture through the intercostal space. The implantation process was performed within approximately 50 s per mouse, and the operative mortality was less than 5%. Single pulmonary nodules developed at the implanted site in 93% of animals and subsequent mediastinal lymph node metastasis was observed in all mice that formed a lung nodule after intrapulmonary implantation. The size of tumour nodule and the weight of mediastinal lymph node increased in a time-dependent manner. The mean survival time of mice implanted successfully with LLC cells was 21+/-2 days (range 19-24 days). Histopathological analysis revealed that no metastatic tumour was detectable in the mediastinal lymph nodes on day 11, but metastatic foci at mediastinal lymph nodes were clearly observed on days 17 and 21 after implantation. Other metastases in distant organs or lymph nodes were not observed at 21 days after the implantation. Comparative studies with intrapleural and intravenous injections of LLC cells suggest that the mediastinal lymph node metastasis by intrapulmonary implantation is due to the release of tumour cells from the primary nodule, and not due to extrapulmonary leakage of cells. An intravenous administration of cis-diamine dichloro platinum on day 1 after tumour implantation tended to suppress the primary tumour nodule and significantly inhibited lymph node metastasis. Thus, a solitary pulmonary tumour nodule model with lymph node metastasis approximates clinical lung cancer and may provide a useful basis for lung cancer research.