Recombinant techniques allow one to engineer an antibody molecule and, in this way, manipulate its properties and functions. We engineered a chimeric human/mouse antibody to the tumor-associated antigen ganglioside GD2, with the aim of decreasing its serum half-life, maintaining its full antigen-binding capacity, and deleting its effector functions, thus making it a potentially useful reagent for the radioimaging of tumors. To this end, the constant region of the human gamma 1 chain was mutated by deleting the second domain (CH2). Here we show that the CH2-deleted antibody (ch14.18-delta CH2) was cleared from the blood of athymic (nu/nu) mice bearing human melanoma tumors with the same kinetics as human IgG F(ab')2. At a beta t1/2 of 12 hr, 0.9% of the injected dose of 125I-labeled ch14.18-delta CH2 was found per milliliter of blood 24 hr after i.v. injection. In biodistribution experiments, 125I-labeled ch14.18-delta CH2 targeted specifically to melanoma xenografts, achieving optimal tumor-to-tissue ratios 12-16 hr after i.v. injection. ch14.18-delta CH2 was localized to the melanoma tumors more rapidly and with better localization ratios than the intact chimeric antibody ch14.18. Sixteen hours after i.v. injection, the tumor-to-blood and tumor-to-liver ratios of ch14.18-delta CH2 were 5 and 12, respectively, while optimal localization ratios obtained for ch14.18 were 1 and 5, respectively, but 96 hr after injection. A reagent such as ch14.18-delta CH2 should be useful for radioimmunodetection of human tumors because of reduced immunogenicity, increased targeting specificity, and rapid clearance from circulation.