Monoclonal IgM antibodies with specificity for Moloney murine sarcoma virus (M-MuSV)-Moloney murine leukemia virus (M-MuLV) from two hybridoma clones have been isolated and characterized. The monoclonal antibodies have specificity for a cytoplasmic and cell surface Friend-Moloney-Rauscher group-specific antigen. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed antibody binding to the surface of the virus-expressing cells but not to the budding virus particles. Treatment of M-Mu-SV-injected mice with monoclonal IgM anti-M-MuSV significantly inhibited tumor growth compared to virus-inoculated animals receiving either saline or MOPC 104E. Nude mice exhibited delayed tumor induction following treatment with the monoclonal antibodies but ultimately died from tumor growth. Virus-injected euthymic mice that were treated with monoclonal IgM anti-M-MuSV generated a potential spleen cell-mediated cytotoxicity against Moloney sarcoma cells compared to virus-infected animals treated with saline. This potentiation of cytotoxicity remained after trypsinization of the spleen cells and thus was probably not due to passively adsorbed monoclonal antibody. The antibodies alone or in the presence of complement did not neutralize M-MuLV. The IgM antibodies induced specific tumor cell cytotoxicity in vitro mediated by complement, spleen cells, lymph node cells, or thymus cells. In conclusion, two monoclonal IgM anti-M-MuSV antibodies that bind to the tumor cell surface but do not neutralize virus can inhibit primary M-MuSV-induced tumor growth in vivo. The regresssion event appeared to involve heterogeneous mechanisms. Complete regression remained thymus dependent even with passive antibody therapy, but significant tumor growth inhibition was produced independent of T-cells. In vitro these IgM antibodies induced complement and cell-mediated cytotoxicity.