Tenascin XB (TNXB) was previously identified as a gene that is more highly expressed in malignant mesothelioma compared with ovarian/peritoneal serous carcinoma based on gene expression array analysis. The objective of this study was to validate this finding at the mRNA and protein levels. Effusions (n=91; 71 ovarian carcinomas, 10 breast carcinomas, and 10 malignant mesotheliomas) were assayed for TNXB mRNA expression using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Tenascin-X protein expression was studied in 183 effusions (137 carcinomas of different origin, 37 mesotheliomas, and 9 reactive effusions) and 178 solid lesions (122 ovarian/peritoneal carcinomas and 56 mesotheliomas) using immunohistochemistry. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis showed significantly higher TNXB mRNA level in mesotheliomas compared with ovarian and breast carcinomas (P<0.001). By immunohistochemistry, tenascin-X protein expression was significantly higher in malignant mesothelioma compared with metastatic carcinoma in effusions (34 of 37 vs. 31 of 137 positive cases; sensitivity=92% and specificity=77%; P<0.001). Reactive mesothelial cells had focal or no tenascin-X expression. Tenascin-X protein was detected in 41 of 56 mesothelioma biopsy specimens and was uniformly absent from all 122 ovarian carcinomas (sensitivity=73% and specificity=100%; P<0.001). Our data suggest that tenascin-X may be a new diagnostic marker of malignant mesothelioma in the differential diagnosis of cancers involving the serosal cavities, particularly in the differential diagnosis between this tumor and ovarian/peritoneal serous carcinoma.