The derivation of permanent cell lines from 40 resected oesophageal carcinomas has been attempted. Five long-term lines have been established from three adenocarcinomas, one mixed carcinoma and one squamous carcinoma. Molecular and cellular analyses have been carried out on the lines and clones derived from them. Karyotype analysis indicates genetic variation among the clones. HLA-A, -B and -C is expressed constitutively, but not HLA-DR. ICAM-1-expressing phenotypes may have arisen during adaptation to long-term culture. All lines are capable of response to interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and all produce transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1). Two lines are resistant to the inhibitory growth effects of the latter, possibly contributing to malignancy. It is anticipated that these lines, originating from histologically different carcinomas, will provide a valuable, continuous resource for the investigation and treatment of these aggressive tumours.