The cDNA sequences of thioredoxin obtained by PCR cloning from human colon cancer cells, human lymphoblastoid cells, and human liver have been found to be identical with the cDNA sequence reported for the autocrine growth factor, human adult T-cell leukemia derived factor (ADF). Recombinant human thioredoxin was 95% reduced by dithiothreitol and was a substrate for reduction by human thioredoxin reductase. Human non-small cell primary lung tumors from subjects who were not cigarette smokers at the time of surgery showed significantly increased levels of thioredoxin mRNA compared to thioredoxin mRNA in paired normal human lung tissue. Subjects who were smokers did not show a significant increase in lung tumor thioredoxin mRNA. The results of the study show that human thioredoxin and ADF are identical species and suggest that there may be increased production of thioredoxin (ADF) by some human cancers.