Inhibition of tumor blood flow appears to a major antitumor mechanism of flavone acetic acid (FAA), although non-ischemic processes may also be a significant role. To distinguish between direct and immune effector cell-mediated cytotoxicity as the basis for non-ischemic killing, effects of FAA were compared in EMT6 spheroids grown entirely in vitro and spheroids recovered from the peritoneal cavities of mice after six days of in vivo growth (ex vivo spheroids). Approximately 50% of the cells in the latter case were of host origin (macrophages and lymphocytes). Ex vivo spheroids showed specific histological changes when exposed to FAA, including tumor cell rounding, apoptosis, depression of mitotic activity and dissolution of necrotic debris in the spheroid core. Quantitation of histological changes indicated these effects to be significantly greater in ex vivo than in vitro spheroids. The histological changes in FAA treated ex vivo spheroids were partially inhibited by dexamethasone. Oxygen tension did not influence the response of spheroids to FAA. The results suggest that immune effector cells, probably macrophages, mediate blood flow-independent antitumor effects of FAA.