Interleukin-12 (IL-12) mediates significant antitumor effects in animal models but associated with dose-dependent toxicity in human. To achieve local expression of IL-12 at the tumor site without systemic toxicity, we performed intra-arterial administration of fibroblasts genetically engineered to produce IL-12 protein with or without retrovirus (CRIP- IL-12 or 3T3-IL-12) in liver metastasis model. Rat breast cancer cells ( MADB - 106) were injected into the portal vein of syngeneic Fisher rats on day 0, and fibroblasts were injected into the hepatic artery on day 7. On day 21, liver weight and number of liver tumors were examined. As controls, CRIP cells expressing retrovirus carrying lacZ marker gene (CRIP-lacZ) or saline (Hanks balanced salt solution, HBSS) were injected. Administration of CRIP-IL-12 significantly reduced tumor metastasis in liver measured by number of foci (CRIP- IL-12: 45.2 +/- 36.7, CRIP-lacZ: >250, HBSS: >250, P<.05) and by liver weight (CRIP-IL-12: 13.0+/-2.5 g, CRIP-lacZ: 30.4+/-8.5 g, HBSS: 26.0+/-7.6 g, P<.05). 3T3-IL-12, which produced only IL-12 protein but not IL-12 retrovirus, also had significant antitumor effects equivalent to CRIP-IL-12. Intra-arterial injection of IL-12--producing fibroblasts into the liver may be an effective therapy for liver tumors reducing systemic toxicity, and could be developed for clinical application.