The human multidrug resistance protein (MRP) is a 190 kd membrane glycoprotein that can cause resistance of human tumor cells to various anticancer drugs, by extruding these drugs out of the cell. Three different monoclonal antibodies, directed against different domains of MRP, allowed us to determine the localization of MRP in a panel of normal human tissues and malignant tumors. Whereas in malignant tumors strong plasma membrane MRP staining was frequently observed, in normal human tissues MRP staining was predominantly cytoplasmatic. Here, MRP was detected in several types of epithelia, muscle cells, and macrophages. From the presence of MRP in many epithelia we infer that MRP, like MDR1 P-glycoprotein, may have an excretory function in protecting the organism against xenobiotics. Recent studies indicate a role for MRP as a carrier for transport of glutathione-conjugated endo- and xenobiotics. The presence of MRP in bronchiolar epithelium, heart muscle, and macrophages would agree with the glutathione S-conjugate carrier activity previously detected in these cells. Furthermore, in 46 of 119 untreated tumors from various histogenetic origins MRP staining was seen. In these tumors MRP may contribute to the intrinsic resistance against treatment with chemotherapeutic drugs.