The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor and its ligands have an important regulatory role in breast carcinoma. We have produced a series of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) directed against the external portion of the EGF receptor. These MAbs prevent the binding of the ligands to the receptor, block ligand-induced activation of the receptor, and can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells both in tissue culture and in human tumor xenografts in nude mice. We have also shown that anti-EGF receptor antibodies greatly enhance the antitumor effects of chemotherapeutic agents active in breast cancer. Phase I clinical trials with single doses of MAb conducted in patients with tumors over-expressing EGF receptors demonstrated favorable pharmacokinetics, good tumor imaging, and a lack of toxicity. A human:murine chimeric antibody has been produced with comparable affinity and antitumor activity that will enable us to administer repeated doses of MAb either alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Our pre-clinical data support the concept that the EGF receptor may be an optimal target for treatment with receptor blocking antibodies, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy.