The ability of tumor markers to improve cancer therapy is not established. We studied a man with a human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)-secreting large cell carcinoma of the lung and gynecomastia. Preoperatively, levels of HCG (109 ng/ml), its alpha and beta subunits (3.2 and 21 ng/ml, respectively) and plasma estradiol were elevated. Despite apparently complete tumor resection and total resolution of gynecomastia, HCG titers remained elevated (3.3 ng/ml), heralding tumor recurrence three weeks later. Because the pathophysiologic consequences of the ectopic secretion of HCG on pituitary function are not established, we administered 100 μg of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (LHRH) and observed a markedly delayed increase in pituitary gonadotropins. Early chemotherapy, guided by persistence of HCG, reduced HCG to undetectable levels, restored to normal the response to LHRH and resulted in a distinctly unusual 30-month complete remission. Use of HCG as a tumor marker levels is more sensitive than the symptom of gynecomastia and may permit detection of small, potentially curable tumor foci.