We had reported previously (Blood 81:1880, 1993) that allogeneic blood transfusions (ABT) administered before the infusion of tumor cells in both inbred and outbred experimental animals promote tumor growth and that this effect can be ameliorated by leukodepletion. To better reproduce the human situation, we evaluated, in this present study, the effect of ABT in animals with established tumors using enumeration of pulmonary metastatic nodules as the end point. The role of allogeneic blood component transfusions in promoting tumor growth and the relative efficacy of prestorage versus poststorage leukodepletion of the ABT in preventing tumor growth enhancement were also evaluated. In an inbred murine animal model, C57Bl/6J mice were administered nonleukodepleted allogeneic (ABT), leukodepleted allogeneic (LD-ABT), or syngeneic (SBT) blood transfusions after the intravenous infusion of syngeneic methylcholanthrene-induced fibrosarcoma cells using two different protocols. A significant increase in the number of pulmonary nodules was observed in those mice that received ABT, in both protocols, compared to animals transfused with SBT or LD-ABT. Significantly higher numbers of pulmonary nodules were also seen in mice transfused with allogeneic buffy-coat leukocytes compared with mice that received either nonleukodepleted allogeneic plasma or LD-ABT. In an outbred animal (rabbit) model, recipient rabbits were administered either nonleukodepleted ABT, prestorage LD-ABT, poststorage LD-ABT, or SBT on days +4 and +9 after the infusion of syngeneic epithelial tumor cells. A significant increase in the number of pulmonary nodules was seen in rabbits that received nonleukodepleted ABT compared to animals transfused with SBT. Significantly lower numbers of pulmonary nodules were observed in rabbits that received prestorage LD-ABT compared to animals transfused with poststorage LD-ABT, but no significant difference was seen in rabbits that received poststorage LD-ABT compared with animals transfused with nonleukodepleted ABT. These studies show that ABT promote tumor growth of established animal tumors, that the ABT-induced tumor growth effect is related to the presence of donor allogeneic leukocytes, and that this effect can be ameliorated by prestorage leukodepletion. The present results also provide evidence for the lack of efficacy of poststorage leukodepletion in preventing ABT tumor growth promotion.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).