For understanding the local immune response in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we investigated both Th1 and Th2-type as well as TGF-beta1 cytokine mRNA expression in 10 fresh tumor biopsies, the corresponding tumor and short term TIL cell lines as well as patient PBMC. A methodology based on a highly sensitive quantitative RT-PCR was used. We found that IL-6 mRNA was highly expressed in all tumor biopsy samples analyzed (4 LLC, 3 ADC and 3 SCC). IL-10 mRNA was expressed in 7 of 10 biopsies whereas IL-4 mRNA expression was moderate. Analysis of type I cytokines revealed a low expression level of IL-2 mRNA, while IFNgamma and GM-CSF expression was high in the majority of the tumor lesions studied. Quantitatively, high amounts of Th2-type cytokine mRNA were detected at the tumor site with IL-6 as the predominant lymphokine. A high mRNA expression level of the immunosuppressive cytokine TGF-beta1 was observed in all NSCLC. To identify the cell types responsible for the production of TGF-beta1, IL-6, IL-10 and GM-CSF at the tumor site, tumor and TIL cell lines were derived from the corresponding biopsies. All the 3 tumor cell lines analysed were found to express high amount of TGF-beta1 but not IL-10 mRNA, 2 expressing IL-6 and GM-CSF. Five short term TIL cell lines established in the presence of IL-2 expressed high level of IL-10, IL-4 and IFNgamma but not IL-2 mRNA. Strikingly, high expression of IL-10 mRNA was also observed in all 6 patient PBMC analyzed as compared to controls. Together, our results indicate the existence of a local and peripheral Th-2-type cytokine pattern in patients bearing NSCLC.