More than 70 cell lines were established from esophageal cancer, including 15 TE-series cell lines established by the authors. This article reviews molecular and cellular features of esophageal cancer cells from studies using these cell lines as well as primary tumors. The subjects reviewed include primary cultures of normal epithelium of the esophagus and of esophageal tumors, their growth and differentiation properties, chromosomal aberrations, protein kinase C, growth factors and their receptors, oncogenes, and tumor-suppressor genes. Lesions of genetic loci in esophageal cancer include the absence of mutations in ras genes in primary tumors, amplification and overexpression of the c-erbB gene, co-amplification of hst-1 and int-2 genes, mutations, and allelic loss of tumor suppressor genes, p53, Rb, APC, and MCC. Future clinical improvement will be achieved on the basis of the understanding of molecular and cellular features of esophageal cancer cells.