Anti-CD19 monoclonal antibody anti-B4 (IgG1) conjugated to the novel toxin-blocked ricin forms a potent immunotoxin, anti-B4-blocked ricin, that kills greater than 4.5 logs of CD19-positive cells in vitro after a 24-h exposure to a conjugate concentration of 5 x 10(-9) M (1.11 micrograms/ml). The efficacy of anti-B4-blocked ricin in vivo was assessed in survival models of SCID mice bearing either a human B-cell lymphoma (Namalwa), a human non-T and non-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Nalm-6), or a murine B-cell lymphoma transfected with the human CD19 gene (300B4). In one model, 5 x 10(7) tumor cells were injected i.p., and 1 h later the mice were treated with i.v. bolus injections of anti-B4-blocked ricin at 100 micrograms/kg/day for 5 days. Controls included similar treatment with anti-B4 antibody (72 micrograms/kg/day or 2 mg/kg/day for 5 days) alone or with the isotype-matched nonspecific immunotoxin, N901-blocked ricin (100 micrograms/kg/day). In a second model, 4 x 10(6) tumor cells were injected i.v., and 7 days later mice were treated i.v. as above. Anti-B4-blocked ricin showed efficacy by killing in vivo up to 3 logs of tumor cells, which was manifested in significant prolongation of the life of the treated animals. Only very limited or no effects were observed in animals treated with either anti-B4 antibody alone or N901-blocked ricin control conjugate. The concentration of anti-B4-blocked ricin in the blood of animals was 150 ng/ml after the first i.v. injection and about 800 ng/ml following the fifth injection of conjugate. This increase may be due to damage to the reticuloendothelial system by anti-B4-blocked ricin, since the rate of clearance of carbon from blood also decreased 5-fold after five injections as compared to the rate after only one injection. These studies indicate that anti-B4-blocked ricin has the potential to increase survival times of hosts with malignant disease.