A limiting-dilution assay was developed and used to determine the frequency of autologous tumor-reactive cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in peripheral blood of a melanoma patient MZ2, who has been free of detectable disease since several years. In this patient, the frequencies of tumor-reactive CTL spontaneously varied only by a factor of 1.5. After vaccinations with autologous mutagenized and lethally irradiated tumor cells a two- to tenfold increase in frequencies of tumor-reactive CTL was found within the first 2 weeks. Thereafter, CTL frequencies returned to values measured prior to vaccinations. We conclude, that the limiting-dilution assay applied in this study can detect changes in the T cell response to autologous tumor cells. The frequency of tumor-reactive CTL determined with this approach can serve as an immunological parameter for monitoring the T cell response to autologous tumor cells in individual cancer patients receiving tumor cell vaccinations.