A trophoblast cell surface antigen has been characterised by a monoclonal antibody (mAb) 5T4, raised following immunisation with solubilised wheat germ agglutinin binding glycoproteins from human syncytiotrophoblast plasma membrane (StMPM). The expression of the 72 kDa glycoprotein was assessed on cryostat sections of a range of neoplastic and non-neoplastic tissues, using an avidin-biotin immunoperoxidase technique. In products of conception, intense reactions were noted with villous syncytiotrophoblast membrane in normal early and term placenta, with weaker positivity of placental site trophoblast. Most normal or non-neoplastic tissues were negative, including liver, kidney, spleen, small intestine, ovary and testis. Faint or moderate positive reactions were present in some specialised epithelia. Of 115 neoplasms examined, 76 showed reactions with tumour cells including carcinomas of the bladder, breast, cervix, endometrium, lung, oesophagus, ovary, pancreas, stomach and testicular non-seminomatous germ cell tumours. Choriocarcinomas and placental site trophoblastic tumours were also positive. Most adenocarcinomas of colon and seminomas were negative as were all malignant melanomas and malignant lymphomas. A radioimmunoassay did not detect the antigen in either normal or pregnancy serum. The relatively low level of expression in normal tissues and reactivity with a wide range of carcinomas suggested that the antibody may be useful in diagnostic or targeting studies.