The pattern of cell surface antigen expression of a set of cell lines derived from human germ cell tumours and corresponding to various cell phenotypes found within these tumours was studied using immunofluorescence. Twenty-two different antibodies were used. Many of these antibodies have been noted to recognise epitopes that are either preferentially expressed by embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells, or by more differentiated cell types. Using scatter plots and rank correlations, 6 groups of antibodies were distinguished with respect to their staining patterns on the cell lines tested. Several antibodies showed a specific staining pattern in relation to the differentiation state of the cells. Two groups of antibodies included those recognising high m.w. glycoproteins (antibodies TRA-1-60, TRA-1-81, GCTM2, 3-177, K4 and K21) and the ganglioseries glycolipid antigens SSEA-3 and -4 (antibodies MC631 and MC813-70). These antibodies mostly stained EC cells but not other cell types, confirming previously published data. However, one of these groups, comprising antibodies K4 and MC631, was more exclusively associated with the EC cell phenotype than was the other group. Antibodies recognising the liver isozyme of alkaline phosphatase (TRA-2-49 and TRA-2-54) also reacted strongly with most EC cell lines, although they reacted significantly with a number of other cell lines as well, whereas antibodies to the placental isozyme tended to react only weakly with EC cells. The antibodies recognising the ganglioseries glycolipids GD2 and GD3 (VIN2PB22 and VINIS56) preferentially stained cells with neuroectodermal characteristics. Other antibodies showed a heterogeneous staining pattern for the cell lines with different phenotypes. The data obtained from the cell lines were, in general, similar to data obtained from immunohistochemical studies on tissue sections of primary germ cell tumours of the adult testis, including carcinoma in situ.