Tumor-specific anti-idiotype (anti-Id) monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) to B-cell lymphomas have been administered to patients, resulting in significant clinical responses. However, clinical responses have been limited by the emergence of Id-negative lymphoma. To overcome the problem of tumor heterogeneity, we conducted a pilot evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of yttrium 90 (90Y)-labeled anti-Id and shared Id (sId) MoAbs in non-Hodgkin's B-cell lymphoma. Nine patients with relapsed B-cell lymphoma in whom tumor was successfully targeted with 111In-labeled anti-Id MoAb were treated with 90Y-labeled anti-Id MoAb. A total of 19 courses (one to four per patient) were administered using 1,000 to 2,320 mg unlabeled clearing MoAb and 10 to 54 mCi 90Y MoAb per patient. Two of nine patients had a complete response, one a partial response, three stable disease, and three disease progression. Time to progression varied from 1 to 12 months. Toxicities were predominately hematologic, and only one patient developed infection and required transfusion. At progression, three of five assessable patients had Id- positive lymphoma and two had Id-negative lymphoma. Human antimouse antibodies (HAMA) did not develop in the patients after treatment. 90Y anti-Id MoAbs demonstrated excellent in vivo stability, produced significantly tumor regression in three of nine patients, exhibited acceptable toxicities, and elicited no HAMA formation. Further investigation of repetitive, low-dose 90Y anti-Id and MoAb therapy is warranted; however, the advantages of a pan B MoAb may prove the latter to be the agent of choice for the radio immunotherapy of B-cell lymphoma.