Receptors belonging to the tumour necrosis factor receptor (TNF-R) superfamily are implicated in a variety of important biological processes. Although messenger ribonucleic acid coding for many of these receptors has been detected in lung, little is known about their expression in this organ. In this study, immunohistochemical techniques were used to evaluate the expression of three receptors of this family (4-1BB, lymphotoxin-beta receptor (LTbeta-R), and Fas) in normal human lung, lung carcinomas and by tuberculous and sarcoid granulomas. The 4-1BB receptor was uniformly expressed by endothelial cells of small vessels and by basal epithelial cells within pseudostratified bronchial epithelium. LTbeta-R expression by parenchymal cells was limited to those of epithelial origin (bronchial and bronchiolar epithelium, hyperplastic alveolar epithelium and lung carcinomas). Fas was present on both fibroblasts and epithelial cells (bronchial and alveolar epithelium and most, but not all, carcinomas), but not on endothelial cells. A subpopulation of T-lymphocytes expressed these receptors, but only Fas was detected on normal alveolar macrophages and epithelioid cells. Thus, 4-1BB, LTbeta-R, and Fas have characteristic and only partially overlapping patterns of expression in the lung. The findings should facilitate further evaluation of their role in lung homeostasis and pathology.