CAM 17.1-Ab is a recently described monoclonal antibody that detects a mucus glycoprotein with high specificity for intestinal mucus, particularly in the colon, small intestine, biliary tract and pancreas. We investigated the expression and release of CAM 17.1 in pancreatic carcinoma cell lines and tissue specimens of normal pancreas, chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. CAM 17.1 was weakly expressed on normal ductal cells and chronic pancreatitis, whereas it was overexpressed in pancreatic cancer. Serum analysis using a new enzyme-linked antibody sandwich assay (CAM 17.1/WGA) of patients with chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer or other gastrointestinal cancer and of healthy blood donors revealed a high sensitivity (67%) and excellent specificity (90%) of CAM 17.1/WGA assay in pancreatic cancer. In comparison with the tumour marker CA19-9, the sensitivity of the CAM 17.1/WGA assay was similar to the sensitivity of CA 19-9 (67% and 76%, P = 0.22), whereas the specificity of CAM 17.1/WGA assay was higher than in CA 19-9 (90% compared with 78% in chronic pancreatitis, P > 0.05).