The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a transmembrane glycoprotein, with an extracellular ligand-binding domain and intracellular tyrosine kinase domain. Ligand binding induces EGFR dimerization and autophosphorylation on several tyrosine residues in the intracellular domain, leading to mitogenic signal transduction. EGFR overexpression correlates with a poor prognosis and is often associated with malignant transformation in a variety of epithelial cancers. ABX-EGF is a high-affinity (dissociation constant K(D) = 5 x 10(-11) M) fully human IgG2 monoclonal antibody against human EGFR. ABX-EGF binds EGFR and blocks receptor binding of EGF and transforming growth factor-alpha, inhibiting EGFR tyrosine phosphorylation and tumor cell activation. ABX-EGF prevents tumor formation and eradicates large, established A431 tumors in xenograft models. Tumor growth inhibition occurs at relatively low doses, without concomitant chemotherapy or radiotherapy. When combined with chemotherapeutic agents, ABX-EGF has resulted in additive antitumor activity. A Phase I clinical trial has demonstrated activity in several tumor types, and the results from a Phase II trial for renal cell cancer also showed modest activity. Therapy was generally well tolerated without statistically significant adverse events. Monoclonal antibody blockade of EGFR represents a new and exciting direction in cancer therapy.