Despite the extensive interest in NADPH:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1, DT-diaphorase), there is little immunohistochemical information regarding its distribution in either normal human tissues or in human tumors. Using immunohistochemistry (IHC), we have examined cell-specific expression of NQO1 in many normal tissues and tumors as a step toward defining the distribution of NQO1 in humans. NQO1 was detected by IHC in respiratory, breast duct, thyroid follicle, and colonic epithelium, as well as in the corneal and lens epithelium of the eye. NQO1 was also detected by IHC in vascular endothelium in all tissues examined. NQO1 could also readily be detected in the endothelial lining of the aorta but was not detected using immunoblot analysis in the myocardium. Adipocytes stained positive for NQO1, and the enzyme was also detected by both IHC and immunoblot analysis in parasympathetic ganglia in the small intestine and in the optic nerve and nerve fibers. NQO1 was not highly expressed in five different human liver samples using immunoblot analysis, whereas studies using IHC demonstrated only trace NQO1 staining in isolated bile duct epithelium. NQO1 expresion was also examined by IHC in a variety of solid tumors. Marked NQO1 staining was detected in solid tumors from thyroid, adrenal, breast, ovarian, colon, and cornea and in non-small cell lung cancers. The NQO1 content of many solid tumors supports the use of NQO1-directed anticancer agents for therapeutic purposes, but the distribution of NQO1 in normal tissues suggests that potential adverse effects of such agents need to be carefully monitored in preclinical studies.