Marked differences in the tumor uptake of a 125I-labeled monoclonal antibody (MAb) directed against carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) were observed in 4 serially transplanted human colorectal carcinomas in nude mice. A comparative study showed that elevated values of measurable tumor vascular parameters, such as permeability, blood flow and blood volume, correlated better with high MAb tumor uptake than the concentration of target antigen in the tumor. In an attempt to modify the vascular parameters and to determine if this could increase antibody uptake by the tumor, rhTNF alpha (TNF) was injected i.t. or i.v. and antibody localization experiments were performed immediately thereafter. Results showed that the permeability of the tumor vessels increased 8 to 10 fold 1 hr after i.t. injection of TNF as compared to control tumors injected with saline. Tumor uptake of 125I-labeled anti-CEA MAb, was 3 times higher 2 hr after i.v. injection and still 27% higher 22 hr later, as compared to results from controls. Intravenous injection of TNF simultaneously with the 125I-labeled anti-CEA MAb also resulted in a 2-fold increase in tumor uptake 4 hr after injection, but the increase was no longer significant 24 hr after injection. Interestingly after i.v. injection of TNF, the MAb concentration in the blood and other normal tissues, such as liver, kidneys, lungs and heart was decreased, resulting in significantly higher ratios of tumor to normal tissue. Taken together the results demonstrate that injection of TNF can increase tumor vascular permeability and improve radio-antibody uptake. This raises the possibility of increasing the radiation dose delivered by antibody to the tumor in the course of radioimmunotherapy.