Previous studies have shown the potential of murine and chimeric anti-CD44v6 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) for radioimmunotherapy (RIT) of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). A limitation of these MAbs, however, appeared to be their immunogenicity. Therefore, humanized monoclonal antibody BIWA 4 (bivatuzumab), with an intermediate affinity for CD44v6, was recently selected. As a prelude to RIT, we evaluated the safety, tumor-targeting potential, pharmacokinetics, and immunogenicity of technetium-99m-labeled BIWA 4 in patients undergoing operations for primary HNSCC in this study. Ten patients were treated at BIWA 4 dose levels of 25 mg (n=3), 50 mg (n=4), and 100 mg (n=3). Patients received 2 mg of 750 MBq 99mTc-BIWA 4, together with 23-, 48-, and 98-mg unlabeled BIWA 4, respectively. Radioimmunoscintigraphy (RIS) was performed within 1 h and after 21 h, and patients underwent surgery at 48 h after injection. Biodistribution of 99mTc-BIWA 4 was evaluated by radioactivity measurements in blood, bone marrow, and in biopsies of a surgical specimen obtained 48 h after injection. BIWA 4 concentration in blood was assessed by ELISA and high performance liquid chromatography and related to soluble CD44v6 levels in serum samples. The development of human anti-human antibody (HAHA) responses was determined. Administration of 99mTc-BIWA 4 was well tolerated by all patients and no HAHA responses were observed. A mean t1/2 in plasma of 54.8±11.5 h, 76.1±21.8 h, and 68.5±21.2 h was found for the 25-, 50-, and 100-mg dose group, respectively. No complex formation of BIWA 4 with soluble CD44v6 in blood was observed. RIS showed targeting of primary tumors and lymph node metastases in 8 of 10 and 1 of 5 patients, respectively. The highest tumor uptake and tumor to nontumor ratios were observed for the 50-mg dose group. Tumor uptake was 12.9±5.9, 26.2±3.1, and 15.4±1.9% of the injected dose (ID)/kg for the 25-, 50-, and 100-mg dose group, respectively, while the tumor to bone marrow ratios for these groups were 1.7±0.5, 3.2±1.1, and 2.0±0.6, respectively. Conclusion: 99mTc-BIWA 4 can safely be administered to patients with HNSCC, with absence of detectable HAHA responses. The 50-mg dose level showed the highest tumor uptake and tumor to nontumor ratios. These findings support the use of BIWA 4 for RIT studies in patients with HNSCC.