NK and LAK cells which are able to lyse tumor target cells in an MHC-unrestricted manner are not equally effective against targets of the same nature. In the case of colorectal tumors, some cells are highly sensitive, whereas others are resistant to NK and can even be quite resistant to LAK-mediated lysis. In the present paper, we tried to correlate the stage of differentiation of 17 human colorectal tumor cell lines with their NK- or LAK-cell susceptibility. It was observed that NK cells killed colorectal target cells independently from their stage of differentiation defined according to histopathological criteria from xenografting in nude mice. NK susceptibility was not correlated either with in vitro-defined criteria of differentiation, such as cell polarity and morphology, brush-border enzyme expression and CEA production. A LAK-resistant HT-29 sub-line (HT-29 LAK) was selected which could not be distinguished from HT-29 in terms of features of differentiation. It was further observed that HT-29 Glc-/+ cell line, a highly differentiated enterocytic-like variant of HT-29, obtained after glucose starvation, was killed by LAK cells as efficiently as the moderately differentiated parental HT-29, and that Caco-2 cells, which differentiate spontaneously after confluence in standard culture conditions, were equally sensitive to NK-mediated lysis whatever their stage of differentiation. In contrast, HT29 MTX10(-5), a highly differentiated mucus-secreting variant of HT29 obtained by methotrexate selection, was much more resistant to LAK cells than parental HT29 cells.