Therapy of neuroblastoma patients with interleukin (IL)-2 activates effector cells capable of lysing tumor cells in vitro. When tumor cells are pretreated with certain monoclonal antibodies (MoAb), these in vivo activated effectors show augmented tumor lysis via antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). This study presents immunological analyses of serial blood samples from two refractory neuroblastoma patients who received combined in vivo therapy with murine anti-ganglioside GD2 monoclonal antibody 14.G2a and IL-2. These studies were designed to determine whether conditions that induce ADCC in vitro can be generated in vivo by combined therapy with IL-2 and MoAb. As shown previously, administration of IL-2 dramatically augments the ability of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) to mediate ADCC. In addition, we demonstrate here that sera, obtained 1 h after infusion of 14.G2a, provides an effective source of functional antibody for ADCC mediated by PBMC from healthy donors. Finally, effective ADCC-mediated killing of neuroblastoma target cells was also achieved in vitro following IL-2 plus 14.G2a treatment when patients' effector cells were combined with patients' serum, as the source of 14.G2a antibody. These results indicate that this combination of IL-2 and 14.G2a generates conditions within the peripheral blood of pediatric neuroblastoma patients that enable their own lymphocytes to mediate antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity sufficient to effectively kill neuroblastoma cells in vitro.