The concept of idiotype vaccines against tumor-associated antigens (TAA) was tested in the DBA/2 L1210 lymphoma subline, L1210/GZL. Monoclonal antibodies against a TAA that cross-reacts with the envelope glycoprotein gp52 of the mammary tumor virus were used to make hybridoma anti-idiotype antibodies (Ab2). In this report we describe the characterization of monoclonal anti-idiotypic antibodies against the combining site of 11C1 (Ab1), which recognizes a shared determinant of gp52 of mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) and the TAA of L1210/GZL. Hybridomas expressing the internal image of gp52 were screened by an idiotype inhibition assay. Mice sensitized with radiated L1210/GZL cells produced specific delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) against the Ab2 hybridoma. Five Ab2 hybridomas were selected and were used to immunize DBA/2 mice. Such immunized animals showed specific DTH reaction against a challenge with the L1210/GZL tumor cells. Similar results were obtained in mice immunized with purified Ab2. Fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis demonstrated that fluorescence staining of L1210/GZL cells by 11C1 can be completely inhibited with preabsorption on Ab2 hybridoma cells. Mice immunized with 2F10 and 3A4 coupled to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) contained antibodies binding to MMTV. But only in mice immunized with 2F10-KLH was significant inhibition of L1210/GZL tumor growth observed. Collectively, these results indicate that certain anti-idiotypic antibodies can mimic the MMTV gp52 antigen, as well as the gp52-like epitope expressed on the L1210/GZL tumor cells. These properties of anti-idiotypic antibodies mimicking TAA could be exploited for making idiotype vaccines against tumors.