Although natural killer (NK) cells are thought to give the host a spontaneous resistance against tumours and have been postulated to act in vivo as surveillor cells, definitive data in support of these hypotheses has not been obtained. Recently the beige (bg) mouse, a morphological homologue of the human Chediak-Higashi (CH) syndrome, was shown to be deficient in NK activity. Specifically, spleen cells of bg mice were demonstrated to be incapable of in vitro natural cytotoxicity against tumour cells. We report here that a tumour line, modified to be sensitive to NK cytotoxicity by in vitro culture, demonstrated in vivo an increased growth rate, faster induction time and an increased metastatic capability in bg compared to control mice. This was not found with a tumour line insensitive to NK activity (without in vitro culture). In vivo activation of NK cells in bg and control mice resulted in a decrease in tumour growth rate and metastatic frequency. These results demonstrate that NK cells have an important function in the host's control of tumour growth and metastasis.