Gamma delta T cells are thought to mediate immune responses at epithelial surfaces. We have quantified and characterized hepatic and peripheral blood gamma delta T cells from 11 normal and 13 unresolved tumor-bearing human liver specimens. gamma delta T cells are enriched in normal liver (6.6% of T cells) relative to matched blood (0.9%; P = 0.008). The majority express CD4(-)CD8(-) phenotypes and many express CD56 and/or CD161. In vitro, hepatic gamma delta T cells can be induced to kill tumor cell lines and release interferon-gamma, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-2 and interleukin-4. Analysis of V gamma and V delta chain usage indicated that V delta 3(+) cells are expanded in normal livers (21.2% of gamma delta T cells) compared to blood (0.5%; P = 0.001). Tumor-bearing livers had significant expansions and depletions of gamma delta T cell subsets but normal cytolytic activity. This study identifies novel populations of liver T cells that may play a role in immunity against tumors.