UNLABELLED: Lym-1, a monoclonal antibody that preferentially targets malignant lymphocytes, has induced therapeutic responses and prolonged survival in patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma when labeled with 1311. Radiometal-labeled antibodies provide higher tumor radiation doses than corresponding 1311 antibodies. 67Cu has an exceptional combination of properties desirable for radioimmunotherapy, including gamma and beta emissions for imaging and therapy, respectively, a biocompatible half-time and absence of pathways contributing to myelotoxicity. The radioimmunoconjugate, 67Cu-21T-BAT-Lym-1, has been shown to be efficacious in nude mice bearing human Burkitt's lymphoma (Raji) xenografts. Based on these results, a clinical study of the pharmacokinetics and dosimetry of 67Cu-21T-BAT-Lym-1 in patients with lymphoma was initiated. METHODS: Eleven patients with advanced stage 3 or 4 lymphoma were given a preload dose of unmodified Lym-1, then an imaging dose of 126-533 MBq (3.4-14.4 mCi) 67Cu-21T-BAT-Lym-1. Total Lym-1 ranged from 25 to 70 mg dependent on the specific activity of the radioimmunoconjugate and was infused at a rate of 0.5-1 mg/min. Imaging, physical examination, including caliper measurement of superficial tumors, and analysis of blood, urine and fecal samples were performed for a period of 6-13 d after infusion to assess pharmacokinetics, radiation dosimetry, toxicity and tumor regression. RESULTS: In 7 patients, in whom superficial tumors had been accurately measured, tumors regressed from 18% to 75% (mean 48%) within several days of 67Cu-21T-BAT-Lym-1 infusion. The uptake and biological half-time of 67Cu-21T-BAT-Lym-1 in tumors were greater than those of normal tissues, except the mean liver half-time exceeded the mean tumor half-time. The mean tumor-to-marrow radiation ratio was 32:1, tumor-to-total body was 24:1 and tumor-to-liver was 1.5:1. Images were of very good quality; tumors and normal organs were readily identified. Mild and transient Lym-1 toxicity occurred in 6 patients; 1 patient developed a human antimouse antibody. There were no significant changes in blood counts or serum chemistries indicative of radiation toxicity. CONCLUSION: Because of the long residence time of 67Cu-21T-BAT-Lym-1 in tumors, high therapeutic ratios were achieved and, remarkably, numerous tumor regressions were observed after imaging doses. The results indicate considerable therapeutic potential for 67Cu-21T-BAT-Lym-1.