The efficacy of monoclonal antibody therapy depends in part on the expression of the relevant tumor-associated antigens by both primary tumors and their metastases. Antigen expression by paired primary and autologous metastases from surgically excised osteogenic and soft-tissue sarcomas from 15 patients was studied using a panel of murine hybridoma monoclonal antibodies and indirect immunoperoxidase staining of formalin-fixed tissue sections. The panel included three antibodies (B3619, 17-9H3, OST6) recognizing sarcoma-associated antigens and an antibody recognizing an HLA-DR framework determinant (OKIal). In most cases, antibody binding to both primary and metastatic tumors was observed. However, marked heterogeneity of binding intensity between primary and metastatic tumors and of cells expressing antigens within tumors was noted. This occurred even though primary and metastatic tumors demonstrated homogeneous histology and cellular morphology. Differences were noted among patients as well as among metastases taken from an individual. A significant number of both primary and metastatic tumors contained cells that did not bind a particular antibody even in the presence of other cells that demonstrated significant antibody binding. Thus, strategies for single monoclonal antibody therapy may be limited by heterogeneity of intertumor and intratumor antigenic expression.