Herein we have analyzed the expression of idiotopes associated with a monoclonal anti-tumor-associated antigen (TAA) antibody in DBA/2 mice which have progressively growing tumors or resist tumor growth. A panel of eight monoclonal antiidiotypic antibodies raised against a monoclonal antibody which reacts with a mouse mammary tumor virus cross-reactive qp52 envelope protein (TAA) of the L1210/GZL lymphoma was used to measure the expression of idiotopes in sera from different treatment groups. Significant correlations between the expression of certain idiotopes and the growth of the tumor or the establishment of anti-tumor immunity are seen. 1) Idiotypes detected by anti-idiotype D11 are high in anti-idiotype immunized progressor or tumor-susceptible mice and low or absent in regressor mice, i.e., the mice immunized with the protective 2F10 anti-idiotype; 2) the 3A4-detected idiotypes are less frequent or absent in irradiated tumor-immunized regressor mice than in untreated mice challenged with live tumor or progressor mice; 3) no difference in the anti-TAA titers is seen in mice in which the tumor growth is inhibited and in mice in which the tumor grows; 4) no difference in 11C1 idiotype + anti-TAA titer was observed between regressor and progressor mice; and 5) mice with normal or accelerated tumor growth have higher titers of idiotypes detected by a polyclonal anti-idiotype. These findings provide evidence for a regulatory idiotype network induced by the growing L1210/GZL tumor or by anti-idiotypic immunization. The titer of anti-TAA antibody does not correlate with the biology of tumor growth, but certain idiotopes correlate with either progressive or regressive tumor behavior. Therefore, the target of the idiotype regulation is likely to be anti-tumor T effector cells. Effective idiotype therapy of tumors must deal with the complexity of idiotype regulation induced by the tumor itself and is unlikely to be successful if anti-idiotypes are used only as internal mimicry of a TAA.