Gene modification of tumor cells with the cDNA for interferon gamma (IFN gamma) has been shown to increase the immunogenicity of some tumor cells. In order to explore further the possible therapeutic relevance of these previous findings, two clones of the nonimmunogenic MCA-102 fibrosarcoma of C57BL/6 origin were retrovirally transduced with the cDNA encoding murine IFN gamma: 102.4JK (4JK), a clone with relatively high major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I expression, and 102.24JK (24JK), a clone with low expression of surface MHC class I molecules. Retroviral transduction of tumor cells with the cDNA encoding for IFN gamma resulted in a substantial up-regulation of MHC class I surface expression in the 24JK clone but little change of class I in the 4JK clone. In an attempt to generate antitumor lymphocytes, these gene-modified cells were inoculated into mouse footpads and draining lymph nodes (DLN) were removed, dispersed, and cultured in vitro for 10 days with irradiated tumor cells and interleukin-2. DLN from mice bearing either unmodified tumor or tumor transduced with cDNA encoding neomycin resistance (NeoR) or IFN gamma, were used to treat recipients harboring 3-day pulmonary metastases induced by the parental, unmodified tumor. Treatment with DLN cells obtained following the injection of 24JK tumor cells modified with the gene for IFN gamma significantly reduced the number of pulmonary metastases in four separate experiments, compared to groups treated by DLN cells generated from inoculation of either the unmodified, parental 24JK clone or the same clone transduced with the NeoR gene only. In contrast, DLN cells induced either by IFN gamma-transduced 4JK (high expression of MHC class I) or an unmodified 4JK tumor (moderate expression of MHC class I) had significant but equal therapeutic efficacy. Although the in vitro growth rate of tumor cell lines was unaffected by the insertion of the mouse IFN gamma cDNA, their in vivo (s.c.) growth rates were significantly slower than those of the nontransduced tumors. Thus, after retroviral transduction of the murine IFN gamma cDNA into a nonimmunogenic tumor with a very low level of surface expression of MHC class I, modified tumor cells could elicit therapeutic T cells from DLN capable of successfully treating established pulmonary metastases upon adoptive transfer. This strategy significantly confirms previous observations on the potential therapeutic effects of gene modification of tumor cells with IFN gamma and extends the realm of therapeutic possibilities to include the use of DLN cells for the development of T-cell based immunotherapies against nonimmunogenic human tumors.