The recombinant oncotoxin AR209 [e23(Fv)PE38KDEL; formerly OLX-209] was developed to treat neoplasia that expresses the c-erbB-2 (HER-2/neu) protein product p185(erbB-2). The AR209 compound contains a single-chain antibody domain specific for p185(erbB-2), coupled with a portion of the Pseudomonas exotoxin. The drug has been shown to be effective in inhibiting cells that overexpress erbB-2 due to gene amplification and in cells that do not contain amplified erbB-2 but express slightly higher levels of the protein than normal cells do. To test the efficacy of AR209 on human lung tumors, athymic nude mice were inoculated intrathoracically with a cell line derived from a poorly differentiated lung adenocarcinoma. This cell line, termed 201T, expresses moderately elevated levels of p185(erbB-2) 7.6-fold over normal bronchial epithelium. Mice treated with i.v. injections of AR209 for 5 weeks after orthotopic tumor implantation had smaller tumors and in 20% of cases showed no evidence of disease. The data from this study indicate that AR209 may be an effective treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancers that express p185(erbB-2).