The loading of dendritic cells (DCs) with whole tumor cell lysates may circumvent the facts that few tumor-specific antigens have been identified in human solid tumors. The present study was designed to investigate whether ovarian cancer cells lysate-pulsed DCs activate T cell responses against autologous ovarian tumors. Incubation of T cells with autologous tumor cell lysate-pulsed DCs stimulated proliferation of autologous T cells. T cells primed by autologous tumor cell lysate-pulsed DCs showed significant killing activity against autologous tumor cells, which could be blocked by anti-MHC-class-I and anti-CD8 mAb. By contrast, T cells primed by autologous unpulsed DCs alone or tumor lysates alone failed to exhibit significant killing activity. In addition, T cells primed by DCs pulsed with allogeneic tumor cell lysates or with autologous normal cell lysate or by these cell lysates alone did not induce the increase in the autologous tumor killing activity. As additional controls, T cells stimulated with autologous tumor lysate-pulsed DCs express no increase in the lysis of autologous monocytes, allogeneic ovarian tumor cells and other cell lines including K562, Daudi and Molt-4. Furthermore, T cells stimulated with autologous tumor lysate-pulsed DCs could produce the considerable amounts of cytokines such as GM-CSF, TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma. The data in the present study suggest that whole tumor cell lysates-pulsed DCs could activate T cell responses against autologous ovarian tumor cells, and that these pulsed DCs may be used as a new approach for the specific immunotherapy of ovarian cancer patients.