Experiments were designed to assess age-related changes in the transplantability of human tumours xenografted in congenitally athymic (nu/nu) mice. It has been found that the number of progressively growing human tumour xenografts decreased significantly with increasing age of BALB/c nu/nu recipients. These findings, taken together with a previously recognized increase in the frequency of endogenous interleukin 2 (IL-2)-producing cells with age of nu/nu mice, prompted us to investigate whether administration of exogenous IL-2 to young adult nu/nu mice could change the transplantability of human tumours in the mice. Peritumoral administration of exogenous interleukin 2 to 8-week-old nu/nu mice inhibited the growth of the human tumour xenografts. In vitro activation of nu/nu splenocytes with exogenous Il-2 resulted in the generation of killer cells which have been found to be cytolytic when allowed to react with human tumour targets in 51Cr cytotoxicity assay. In addition, it has been found that the percentage of IL-2-activated Thy 1.2+ and ASGM1+ cells substantially increased with increasing age of nu/nu spleen cell donors. These findings are compatible with the hypothesis that the observed age-related decrease in takes of human tumour xenografts might be determined by the increasing level of IL-2 production and subsequent maturation of IL-2-dependent effector cells.