A primary human pancreatic tumor line (BxPC-3) has been established from a biopsy specimen of a histologically confirmed adenocarcinoma of the body of the pancreas. Tumorigenicity was proven by xenograft in athymic nude mice. Upon re-establishment of tumor xenografts in tissue culture, the epithelial tumor cells retained their original morphology. Histopathologically, the tumors grown in nude mice exhibited the original characteristics of the primary adenocarcinoma in the patient, producing traceable mucin and displaying moderately well to poorly differentiated adenocarcinomas with occasional lymphocytic infiltrations at the tumor peripheries. Furthermore, the tumor xenografts differentially expressed carcinoembryonic antigen, human pancreas cancer-associated antigen, and human pancreas-specific antigen. Karyotyping and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase isoenzyme characterization revealed that this tumor line was of human origin and devoid of HeLa cell contamination. The BxPC-3 tumor line has been maintained for more than four years in our laboratory and represents a valuable model for primary human pancreatic cancer.