Cancer-associated retinopathy (CAR) is an ocular manifestation of a paraneoplastic syndrome whereby immunological reactions to retinal antigens aberrantly expressed in tumor cells lead to the degeneration of retinal photoreceptor cells. In our previous study (H. Ohguro et al., Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci., 40: 82-89, 1999), recoverin, a retina-specific calcium-binding protein, and heat shock cognate protein 70 (hsc 70) were identified as autoantigens recognized by sera from patients with CAR. Therefore, we suggested that autoimmune reactions against both recoverin and hsc 70 might be involved in the pathogenesis of CAR. To elucidate the initial step of the molecular pathology of CAR, we examined the expression of recoverin and hsc 70 by reverse transcription-PCR and Western blot using cell lines of several kinds of cancers, including lung small cell carcinoma, lung adenocarcinoma, gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, uterine cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, and leukemia. Recoverin was expressed in 21 of the 31 cancer cell lines. The expression levels of hsc 70 were significantly higher in cancer cell lines than in noncancerous cell lines. However, no difference in the expression levels of hsc 70 was observed between recoverin-positive and -negative cell lines. Immunofluorescence labeling by the affinity-purified recoverin antibody revealed the immunoreactivity to recoverin as a granular pattern within the cancer cells. Lung adenocarcinoma A549 cells, which did not express recoverin, exhibited a significant reduction in cell proliferation upon transfection with human recoverin cDNA. Taken together, our present data suggest that the retina-specific calcium-binding protein recoverin is expressed in more than 50% of a variety of cancer cells and may play a significant role in the cell proliferation of these tumor cells.