Human tumors express antigenic sites that can serve as targets for radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies for diagnosis, therapy and biologic characterization of human tumors in vivo. Over the last decade, nearly 200 clinical trials have been performed which demonstrate that tumors can be detected with excellent sensitivity and specificity. Tumors which are otherwise occult, particularly for colorectal (anti-CEA and anti-TAG-72 antibodies) and ovarian cancer (anti-TAG-72 and anti-HMFG), are detected in a significant fraction of problem patients. Therapy using radiolabeled antibodies has been effective in lymphomas, leukemias and neuroblastomas, and is beginning to show promise in other solid tumors. Biologic characterization of tumors is likely to become more and more important in the future as monoclonal antibodies against oncogene products, such as her-2-neu, are developed. Development of new antibody forms through genetic engineering techniques, and the continual evolution toward higher resolution imaging instruments, such as PET and SPECT, will lead to further clinical improvements in cancer detection.