[sup 131]I-labeled F (ab')[sub 2] fragments of murine monoclonal antibodies (MAb) 425 specific to the epidermal growth factor receptor expressed on human gliomas were used in experimental human malignant glioma immunotherapy. Two injections of 150 [mu]Ci [sup 131]I-labeled 425 F(ab')[sub 2] achieved growth inhibition of U-87MG human malignant glioma xenografts in nude mice. This radiolabeled specific MAb F(ab')[sub 2] was significantly superior to radiolabeled fragments of an anti-hepatitis virus control MAb A5C3 in influencing tumor growth. However, similar treatment of established human malignant glioma xenografts did not inhibit progressive tumor growth significantly. No clear tumor inhibition was produced by unlabeled MAb 425F(ab')[sub 2]. These studies suggest that [sup 131]I-labeled MAbs have a significant antitumor effect where unmodified antibody is ineffective. Multiple doses of antibody may achieve an increase in labeled MAb concentration in tumors. (author).