Twenty patients with refractory malignancies were treated with a protocol evaluating the addition of ex vivo-activated autologous lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells to a clinically tolerable interleukin-2 (IL-2) regimen (four weekly cycles of human recombinant IL-2 at 3 x 10(6) U/m2/day by continuous infusion for 4 days/week). Sixteen patients completed their induction month of therapy, two had a partial response, six had stable disease, and eight had progressive disease. Four patients had clinical toxicity preventing completion of the induction month of therapy, and one of these patients died during therapy. Significant clinical toxicities included decreased performance status, weight gain, catheter-related thromboses, infectious complications, fever, hypotension, and dyspnea or hypoxemia requiring oxygen. Thus, the addition of LAK cell infusions to this IL-2 regimen did not cause a noticeable change in antitumor response rate but did not cause more severe toxicity.