We investigated the immunomodulatory capacity of primary cultures of renal cell carcinomas (RCC) by assessing production of cytokines and modulation of mitogen-induced T lymphocyte blast transformation. The results clearly show that immunomodulatory capacity is a common feature of RCC and that in vitro these tumors can produce interleukin-10 (IL-10) up to 20 ng/ml, IL-6 up to 35 micrograms/ml (> 250 kU/ml in the B9 system), IL-11 up to 15 micrograms/ml, and transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) up to 22 ng/ml. Furthermore, these tumors have the capacity to modulate T cell blast transformation over two orders of magnitude in each direction. The correlations of the immunologic properties of tumor cell cultures with the conventional classification of tumors (histology, cytology, staging, grading, presence of metastases, and secondary tumors) are analyzed. The significance of these findings for modulation of local immunity by RCC as well as for patient outcome is discussed.