We have demonstrated that a single low dose of cyclophosphamide has an antimetastatic effect on lymphoma (L-TACB)-bearing rats by modulating the host immune response. Galectin-1, a member of the galectin family with specificity for beta-galactosides, has potent immunomodulatory properties by regulating cell-matrix interactions and T-cell apoptosis. Since galectin-1 is expressed by highly metastatic tumors, in the present study we investigated the participation of this beta-galactoside-binding protein in cyclophosphamide-induced immunomodulation. Inbred " e" rats were s.c. challenged with L-TACB. After 14 days, half of the animals received an i.p. injection of cyclophosphamide (10 mg/kg), and on day 21 tumors and spleens were excised. Cell extracts were prepared and galectin-1 expression was determined by Western blot analysis and correlated with Bcl-2 expression levels and the DNA fragmentation profile. Expression of galectin-1 was significantly decreased in tumors from cyclophosphamide-treated rats compared to non-treated rats. The same effect was observed regarding expression of Bcl-2 by tumors. In contrast, expression of Bcl-2 was significantly higher in spleens from treated animals than in non-treated rats. This effect correlated with a decreased intensity in the pattern of DNA fragmentation of spleen cells from cyclophosphamide-treated animals. Our results suggest that a single low dose of cyclophosphamide modulates the expression of galectin-1 and Bcl-2 by tumors, which could in turn influence the apoptotic threshold of spleen mononuclear cells. This mechanism could explain, at least in part, the antimetastatic effect evidenced in our tumor experimental model.