IL-12 is a heterodimeric cytokine produced by macrophages, mitogen stimulated- or EBV infected-B lymphocytes, keratinocytes, and probably dendritic cells, with important immunoregulatory functions in vitro and in vivo. It directly stimulates activated NK and T cells to produce high levels of IFN-gamma, enhances their cytolytic activity, and promotes maturation of Th1 cells as well as IL-2-activated B cells. We have tested paracrine delivery of IL-12 using autologous or allogeneic fibroblasts engineered to secrete high levels of IL-12 to treat established tumors. Injection of IL-12-engineered fibroblasts at the site of an established (day 8) MCA207 sarcoma could efficiently eliminate or suppress tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner, requiring delivery of > 150 ng/kg/dose of bioactive IL-12. Weekly inoculations for 3 wk could also be used to effectively treat a day 4 sarcoma located intradermally in the opposite flank (80% protection using autologous fibroblasts), resulting in long-term protective antitumor immunity. In less immunogenic tumors (MCA102, MC38), 7-day established lung metastases could be significantly reduced (p = 0.001) following IL-12 delivery by fibroblasts and systemic administration of low doses of IL-2. Histologic findings included a mixed infiltrate of CD4+ and CD8+ T effectors and macrophages in the regressing sarcoma on day 21. In a day 41 MCA207 sarcoma locally injected in situ, similar findings were observed. No lymphoid hyperplasia or tissue necrosis were noted in liver, spleen, or lungs in mice receiving repeated inocula of IL-12-engineered fibroblasts. Tests of liver and renal function monitored during the repetitive weekly treatments were within the normal range. IL-12-engineered fibroblasts thus seem to serve as a safe and efficient means to deliver IL-12 in these three tumor models.