Endometrial epithelial cell expression of CSF-1 and FMS antigens was studied in vivo and in vitro in 24 human endometrial carcinoma and 11 benign endometrial biopsy specimens. Twenty-one of 24 adenocarcinomas and 4 of 11 benign lesions stained positively (by IHC) with rabbit anti-human CSF-1 antibodies, while all 24 carcinomas and 3 out of 11 benign lesions (all secretory endometrial specimens) showed significant IHC staining (1+ or greater) of epithelial elements and tissue macrophages with a mouse anti-FMS (CSF-1 receptor) monoclonal antibody. CSF-1 levels in plasma from endometrial carcinoma patients (85 samples, 24 patients) were also found to be markedly elevated (some greater than 100 ng/ml) in patients with active or recurrent disease. In vitro, several endometrial carcinoma cell lines were shown to express FMS complementary transcripts and FMS antigen which were very similar if not identical to those expressed in choriocarcinoma cell line positive controls. Autocrine and paracrine effects mediated by tumor or stromally produced CSF-1 and a tumor epithelial cell CSF-1 receptor may therefore contribute to the biological behavior of endometrial neoplasms in vivo and in vitro.