We analysed TCR-gamma delta expression in tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) obtained from 13 patients with colorectal cancer and simultaneously isolated the T lymphocytes from normal intestinal tissue (IL) to compare the frequencies of TCR-gamma delta expression in TIL, IL, and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) in the same patient. Flow cytometric analysis showed that the frequency of TCR-gamma delta expression in TIL (2.75 +/- 1.84%) was significantly lower than that in IL (15.28 +/- 9.45%, P < 0.01). However, a larger quantity of TIL was separated than IL per unit weight of specimen, so the total number of gamma delta T cells obtained per unit weight was not different between tumour tissue and normal intestine. In addition, phenotypic analysis revealed that about half of the TCR-gamma delta + TIL were CD8+ (CD4+, 3.0 +/- 3.1%; CD8+, 54.7 +/- 19.9%, mean +/- s.d. of five patients), and a very similar result was obtained in TCR-gamma delta + IL (CD4+, 2.7 +/- 2.4%; CD8+, 53.1 +/- 17.4%). In contrast, most TCR-gamma delta + PBL were double-negative (CD4+, 3.2 +/- 3.0%; CD8+, 20.6 +/- 7.4%). These results indicated that TCR-gamma delta + CD8+ T cells selectively and consistently localized in colorectal tumour tissue, similarly to normal intestinal epithelium.