Recent studies have suggested that B7-CD28 interactions provide co-stimulatory signals for activation of NK cells. Transduction of the B7.1 (CD80) gene into tumor cells has been shown to trigger proliferation and cytotoxicity of murine NK cells and a human NK cell line, YT2C2. Therefore, transduction of the B7.1 gene into CD80-negative human squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck (SCCHN) and its stable expression was expected to upregulate proliferation and cytotoxic activities of human NK cells. However, expression of the B7.1 receptors, CD28 and CTLA-4, could not be demonstrated on the surface or in the cytoplasm of normal human NK cells, irrespective of the state of their activation. In proliferation experiments or various cytotoxicity assays, utilizing highly purified human NK cells as responder or effector cells, no enhancement of NK cell generation or activity, respectively, by B7.1+ SCCHN was observed relative to non-transduced or LacZ gene-transduced SCCHN. In contrast, co-incubation of B7.1+ SCCHN targets with human NK cells induced significant inhibition of NK cell growth. Thus, the B7.1-CD28/CTLA-4 pathway is not involved in triggering of human adult NK cells.