LL2 is an anti-CD22 pan-B-cell monoclonal antibody which, when radiolabeled, has a high sensitivity for detecting B-cell, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), as well as an antitumor efficacy in therapeutic applications. The aim of this study was to determine whether intracellularly retained radiolabels have an advantage in the diagnosis and therapy of lymphoma with LL2. In vitro studies showed that iodinated LL2 is intracellularly catabolized, with a rapid release of the radioiodine from the cell. In contrast, residualizing radiolabels, such as radioactive metals, are retained intracellularly for substantially longer. In vivo studies were performed using LL2-labeled with radioiodine by a non-residualizing (chloramine-T) or a residualizing method (dilactitol-tyramine, DLT), or with a radioactive metal (111In). The biodistribution of a mixture of 125I (non-residualizing chloramine-T compared to residualizing DLT), 111In-labeled LL2 murine IgG2a or its fragments [F(ab')2, Fab'], as well as its humanized, CDR-grafted form, was studied in nude mice bearing the RL human B-cell NHL cell line. Radiation doses were calculated from the biodistribution data according to the Medical International Radiation Dose scheme to assess the potential advantage for therapeutic applications. At all assay times, tumor uptake was higher with the residualizing labels (i.e., 111In and DLT-125I) than with the non-residualizing iodine label. For example, tumor/blood ratios of 111In-labeled IgG were 3.2-, 3.5- and 2.8-fold higher than for non-residualizing iodinated IgG on days 3, 7 and 14, respectively. Similar results were obtained for DLT-labeled IgG and fragments with residualized radiolabels. Tumor/organ ratios also were higher with residualizing labels. No significant differences in tumor, blood and organ uptake were observed between murine and humanized LL2. The conventionally iodinated anti-CD20 antibody, 1F5, had tumor uptake values comparable to those of iodinated LL2, the uptake of both antibodies being strongly dependent on tumor size. These data suggest that, with internalizing antibodies such as LL2, labeling with intracellularly retained isotopes has an advantage over released ones, which justifies further clinical trials with residualizing 111In-labeled LL2 for diagnosis, and residualizing 131I and 90Y labels for therapy.