The success of immunotherapy that targets inhibitory T cell receptors for the treatment of multiple cancers has seen the anti-tumor immune response re-emerge as a promising biomarker of response to therapy. Longitudinal characterization of T cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME) helps us understand how to promote effective anti-tumor immunity. However, serial analyses at the tumor site are rarely feasible in clinical practice. Malignant pleural effusions (MPE) associated with thoracic cancers are an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the pleural space that is routinely drained for patient symptom control. This fluid contains tumor cells and immune cells, including lymphocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells, providing a window into the local tumor microenvironment. Recurrent MPE is common, and provides an opportunity for longitudinal analysis of the tumor site in a clinical setting. Here, we review the phenotype of MPE-derived T cells, comparing them to tumor and blood T cells. We discuss the benefits and limitations of their use as potential dynamic biomarkers of response to therapy.