The expression pattern of the imprinted human H19 gene was investigated in testicular cancers of different etiology, as well as in normal testicular parenchyma, parenchyma without germ cells, and adjacent to testicular germ cell tumors of adolescents and adults (TGCTs), using RNase protection analysis, mRNA in situ hybridization and reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. While different total expression levels were detected in spermatocytic seminomas, lymphomas, a Sertoli cell tumor and Leydig cell tumors, none showed a disturbance of monoallelic expression. Strikingly, the majority of invasive TGCTs revealed expression of both parental alleles. The total level of expression highly correlated with differentiation lineage and stage of maturation, similar to that as reported during early normal embryogenesis. Biallelic expression could also be determined specifically in testis parenchyma containing the preinvasive lesion of this cancer. We therefore conclude that within the adult testis, biallelic H19 expression is specific for TGCTs, and that the level of expression is dependent on differentiation lineage and maturation stage. This is in agreement with the proposed primordial germ cell-origin of this cancer, and might be related to retention of embryonic characteristics in TGCTs. In addition, our data argue against H19 being a tumor suppressor gene.