The therapeutic potential of adoptive therapy using tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) has been demonstrated in a number of clinical trials. However, freshly isolated tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) are often impaired in their proliferative and cytotoxic responses, which limits their use in immunotherapy. Several hypotheses with regard to the poor effector function of TIL have been postulated, including the production of immunosuppressive factors by tumour cells. In a previous paper we reported the efficient expansion of immunoreactive TIL from a variety of solid tumours by stimulation with a combination of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against CD3 and CD28. In the present study we analysed whether this protocol would be improved by the removal of tumour cells at the start of the culture. We tested a highly immunogenic tumour, melanoma, and a poorly immunogenic tumour, colon carcinoma. Removal of tumour cells highly improved anti-CD3/CD28 stimulated expansion of TIL from colon carcinoma, resulting in a significantly higher percentage of potentially tumour-specific CD8-positive T-cells and a reduced CD4/CD8 ratio compared to expansion in the presence of tumour cells. In contrast, expansion and CD4/CD8 ratio of melanoma-derived TIL was not significantly influenced by the removal of autologous tumour cells. CD3/CD28-stimulated melanoma TIL cultured in the absence of tumour cells showed specific lysis of autologous tumour cells comparable to melanoma TIL cultured in high-dose IL2. However, no cytotoxicity could be detected in colon TIL irrespective of the culture conditions used. On the other hand, 3/8 colon carcinoma TIL cultures and 9/12 melanoma-derived TIL cultures showed IFNγ secretion upon stimulation with autologous tumour cells. We conclude that stimulation of TIL with a combination of mAbs to CD3 and CD28 in the absence of tumour cells induces efficient expansion of potentially tumour-specific cells from a highly and a poorly immunogenic tumour. Removal of tumour cells does not have a negative influence on the generation of tumour-specific T cells, while cell yield improves. Therefore, for large-scale cultures this protocol can efficiently induce the outgrowth of tumour-specific TIL, at the same time providing a useful source of autologous tumour cells that can be stored and used to direct or test antitumour specificity.