The variable clinical response seen with most cancer immunotherapy suggests that there is a large interindividual variation in immunologic response to tumors. One of the key functional parameters of an immune response is the local production of cytokines. As a method to survey the immune status of tumor-infiltrating cells, we have investigated the constitutive expression of cytokine mRNA in biopsies from epithelial ovarian carcinomas by using a PCR-assisted mRNA amplification assay. Using a set of cytokine-specific primers for 10 different cytokines, we have found selective expression of interleukin 10 (IL-10), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and interferon gamma mRNA in ovarian tumor tissue as compared to normal ovaries and ovarian tumor cell lines. Such differences could not be explained by the extent of T-cell infiltration, since comparing samples with the same intensity of T-cell receptor (TCR) constant region alpha-chain product from the tumor and normal biopsies demonstrated different cytokine patterns. No IL-2 gene expression was detected in the tumor biopsies. IL-2 mRNA, however, became expressed after stimulation of the tumor-derived cells via the CD3 molecule but not after growth in recombinant IL-2 alone. Using the same methodology, we also analyzed the TCR variable region beta-chain gene repertoire. No restriction or biased expression of these genes was observed.