Infiltration by T lymphocytes into oesophageal carcinomas was assessed immunohistochemically, total T lymphocyte numbers by staining for CD3 and activated T lymphocytes by staining for CD25. Five squamous carcinomas and seven adenocarcinomas, resected without neoadjuvant treatment, were studied. Computer aided quantitation showed that total numbers of tumour infiltrating CD3 positive cells were highly variable (range 48-1673 cells/mm2). They were located largely in the stromal (87.9-99.2%) rather than intratumoral regions. Up to 84% of tumour infiltrating T lymphocytes were CD25 positive, although the median figure was 33%. There was no correlation between T lymphocyte infiltration or activation and expression of class I and II histocompatibility antigens, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, tumour stage or grade. These results imply that the local inflammatory response in oesophageal carcinomas is deregulated, which may be a factor contributing to the aggressive nature of the tumours.