Doxorubicin (DXR) conjugated to a monoclonal antibody (MAb), 9.2.27, which recognizes a human melanoma-associated proteoglycan, effectively suppresses the growth of human melanoma xenografts and prolongs the life span of tumor-bearing athymic nude (nu/nu) mice. We have investigated further the mechanism(s) of this in vivo antitumor activity. Our results indicate that following iv injection, the DXR-MAb 9.2.27 conjugate is cleared from the circulation with typical biphasic kinetics, similar to the clearance process of the unconjugated MAb 9.2.27. In contrast, less than 10% of injected dose per milliliter of blood is found in the circulation at any given time after ip injection. Toxicity studies further indicate that DXR-MAb 9.2.27 conjugate is less toxic in vivo than the freely administered DXR, which is known to cause considerable cardiotoxic effects. Direct autoradiography demonstrates that the DXR-MAb 9.2.27 conjugate binds specifically to the tissue sections derived from a human melanoma xenograft of a nude mouse. A critical evaluation is given of the relevance of these findings and their impact on the design of future strategies for the immunochemotherapy of malignant melanoma.