In order to understand the mechanisms leading up to progression or regression, tumors resulting from the s.c. inoculation of progressive or regressive variants of a cell culture established from a chemically-induced rat colonic carcinoma were subjected to sequential histological study. As immunological factors have been previously described in this system of progressive or regressive tumors, special interest was given to inflammatory cells, T and B lymphocytes and macrophages, located inside and outside the tumor. Immunohistological methods using monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies and enzyme histology were performed to identify different populations of infiltrative cells. In both variants of tumors an accumulation of these cells were seen at the periphery of the tumor, surrounding the nodules. In contrast, very few inflammatory cells, macrophages or T lymphocytes were seen inside the clumps of tumor cells where cytolytic cells could have a contact-dependent tumoricidal effect. Only small differences were found between progressive and regressive tumors in the density of the various populations of T helper, T cytotoxic/suppressor, B lymphocytes or macrophages inside or around the tumor nodules. On the other hand, progressive and regressive tumors clearly differ in the relationship between tumor cells and the fibroblastic reaction they induce. Regressive tumors were rapidly encircled by a fibroblastic reaction isolating them from the peripheral tissues. The fibroblastic reaction was less dense around the progressive tumor cells which were able to migrate and invade the periphery. This suggests that immunological factors leading to tumor progression or regression could act indirectly through a control of the fibroblastic reaction, rather than through a direct cytotoxic effect on the tumor cells.