The expression of human E-cadherin in normal tissues and in benign and malignant tumors of female genital organs was examined immunohistochemically with a monoclonal antibody, HECD-1, specific for human E-cadherin. The normal tissues included the ovary, fallopian tube, uterine endometrium, uterine cervix, and vagina. E-cadherin was detected clearly in the cell-to-cell boundaries of both normal glandular and squamous epithelia obtained from those tissues. The tumor tissues consisted of 9 ovarian, 7 endometrial, and 4 cervical adenocarcinomas, 12 squamous cell carcinomas of the cervix, including 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasms, and 5 mesenchymal tumors. E-cadherin also was detected in the cell-to-cell borders of all the epithelial tumors tested, with some reactivity in the cytoplasm of malignant cells, whereas mesenchymal tumors showed no expression. It is noteworthy that poorly differentiated areas of both the adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas showed less expression of E-cadherin. No difference in the expression of E-cadherin between the primary and metastatic lesions was detected in 10 sets of malignant tumors. E-cadherin may be an important factor among a variety of biologic events that occur during the process of metastasis. However, further studies are needed to clarify this.