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Immunoperoxidase histochemical staining of cryostat sections from human tumor tissues revealed that a murine monoclonal antibody (MAb), K1, can distinguish epithelial mesotheliomas from lung adenocarcinomas. All of 15 epithelial-type mesotheliomas and all four mixed type mesothelioma samples, but none of 23 lung adenocarcinomas with different degrees of histologic differentiation demonstrated reactivity with antibody K1. Of the cell populations in each mesothelioma tested, 80% to 100% showed strong and homogeneous staining with MAb K1. Immunofluorescence analysis of live cultured cells from an epithelioid mesothelioma (H-meso) and several lung carcinoma cell lines as well as a pleural effusion of a patient with mesothelioma also showed selective reactivity of K1 with the mesothelioma cells. These data indicate that K1 can be useful as a mesothelial cell marker for the differential pathological diagnosis of the epithelial form of mesothelioma; K1 may also be useful in the study of the pathogenesis, immunodiagnosis, and immunotherapy of epithelial-type and mixed-type human malignant mesothelioma.