Murine monoclonal antibodies to tumor-associated glycoprotein 72 (anti-TAG-72 mAb B72.3 and CC49) are among the most extensively studied mAb for immunotherapy of adenocarcinomas. They have been used clinically to localize primary and metastatic tumor sites; however, murine mAb generally induce potent human anti-(mouse antibody) responses. The immunogenicity of murine mAb can be minimized by genetic humanization of these antibodies, where non-human regions are replaced by the corresponding human sequences or complementary determining regions are grafted into the human framework regions. We have developed a humanized CC49 single-chain antibody construct (hu/muCC49 scFv) by replacing the murine CC49 variable light chain with the human subgroup IV germline variable light chain (Hum4 VL). The major advantages of scFv molecules are their excellent penetration into the tumor tissue, rapid clearance rate, and much lower exposure to normal organs, especially bone marrow, than occur with intact antibody. The biochemical properties of hu/muCC49 scFv were compared to those of the murine CC49 scFv (muCC49 scFv). The association constants (Ka) for hu/muCC49 and muCC49 constructs were 1.1 x 10(6) M(-1) and 1.4 x 10(6) M(-1) respectively. Pharmacokinetic studies in mice showed similar rapid blood and whole-body clearance with a half-life of 6 min for both scFv. The biodistribution studies demonstrated equivalent tumor targeting to human colon carcinoma xenografts for muCC49 and hu/ muCC49 scFv. These results indicate that the human variable light-chain subgroup IV can be used for the development of humanized or human immunoglobulin molecules potentially useful in both diagnostic and therapeutic applications with TAG-72-positive tumors.