Manganese superoxide dismutase (Mn-SOD), a mitochondrial enzyme, is a cytokine-regulated acute-phase protein that protects cells from free radicals. The current investigations examined the in vivo regulation of the expression of Mn-SOD mRNA and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) mRNA in gastric carcinoma tissue. The expression of these transcripts in breast carcinoma tissue also was examined because breast cancer is a much more TNF-sensitive tumor than gastric cancer. TNFalpha mRNA was markedly increased in gastric carcinoma tissue (p < 0.005). There were significantly higher levels of Mn-SOD mRNA in gastric carcinoma tissue than in noncancerous tissue (p < 0.0001). The level of Mn-SOD mRNA in gastric carcinoma tissue was higher than that in breast carcinoma tissue (p < 0.005). Up-regulation of Mn-SOD mRNA in gastric carcinoma tissue most likely serves as a protective mechanism against superoxide radicals and TNF cytotoxicity.