To investigate the effect of tumor-associated macrophages on the in vivo growth properties of cervical carcinoma cells, tumorigenic human papilloma virus (HPV) 18-positive HeLa cells were transfected with an expression vector harboring the cDNA for the macrophage chemoattractant protein-1 JE (MCP-1). Although the endogenous gene is present and not structurally rearranged, its expression seems to be negatively affected by a still unknown mechanism. Inoculation of JE (MCP-1)-negative HeLa cells into nude mice led to rapidly growing tumors, where macrophage infiltration into the inner tumor mass was not detectable immunohistochemically. The activity that attracted mononuclear cells under both in vitro and in vivo condition was reconstituted in HeLa cells after transfection with the JE (MCP-1) expression vector. Heterotransplantation of those cells into immunocompromised animals resulted in significant growth retardation that was accompanied by a strong infiltration of macrophages. On the other hand, in vivo selection of nonmalignant hybrids made between wild-type HeLa cells and normal human fibroblasts in nude mice resulted in tumorigenic segregants 4 mo after inoculation into the animals. Monitoring JE (MCP-1) expression directly within those nodules, we found that transcription was either absent or only weakly detectable. Recultivation of JE (MCP-1)-positive tissue grafts under in vitro conditions revealed that the gene was only marginally inducible by tumor necrosis factor-alpha, a cytokine that normally induces a very strong activation of transcription in nontumorigenic cells. These findings suggest that functional JE (MCP-1) expression and in turn activated macrophages may play a pivotal role in controlling the proliferation rate of HPV-positive cells in vivo.