The Wilms' tumor gene (WT1) encodes a transcriptional regulator involved in growth and differentiation of various tissue types. A continuous over-expression of WT1 was found in leukemic blasts, thus suggesting an oncogenic function. Solid cancer entities have also been described as expressing WT1. We systematically analyzed WT1 expression in small-cell and non-small-cell lung cancer, colon cancer and glioblastoma patients and in the respective tumor cell lines. Using reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction, we found WT1 expression in glioblastoma (5 of 8), lung (5 of 11), and colon cancer (5 of 15) cell lines. While WT1 was expressed in only 1 of 12 lung cancer and 1 of 5 glioblastoma specimens, it was not detected in colon cancer or macroscopically tumor-free colon and lung tissue. In addition, HT29 colon cancer cells showed a loss of WT1 expression when grown to confluence or induced to differentiate by sodium butyrate. From this evidence, testing for WT1 expression is not clinically relevant for colon cancer, lung cancer, or glioblastoma patients. WT1 expression in cancer cell lines can probably be attributed to optimized in vitro growth conditions.