The human lung carcinoma cell line MV522 was previously noted to produce extensive metastasis to the lungs, spleen and lymph nodes after subcutaneous transplantation into athymic nude mice. Animals eventually succumb to these metastases, and not primary tumor growth. The ability to produce extensive metastasis after a simple subcutaneous injection in 100% of animals (> 100 tested to date) would be an advantage when screening compounds for anticancer activity. To validate the utility of this xenograft model for testing anticancer agents, we tested the ability of 10 anticancer drugs to either inhibit primary tumor growth and/or prolong life span of MV522-bearing animals. Among the 10 antitumor conventional agents, only mitomycin C and taxol demonstrated primary tumor growth inhibition. Mitomycin C produced a mild increase in median life span of 41% to 63%, while taxol had inconsistent effects. The metastatic MV522 carcinoma model appears to reflect clinical resistance of primary non-small cell lung cancer to conventional chemotherapeutic agents and should be useful for testing new anti-cancer drugs.