Dendritic cells (DCs) are the main antigen-presenting cells in the skin. We hypothesized that intradermal (i.d.) injection of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) would recruit DCs into melanoma skin metastases and enhance autologous melanoma antigen presentation to host T cells. Sixteen patients with cutaneous or subcutaneous melanoma metastases were treated with GM-CSF injected i.d. into a single dermal metastasis and into a normal skin site for 10 consecutive days at one of four dose levels (10, 20, 40, or 80 microg/injection). Pretreatment and post-treatment skin and tumor biopsies were stained for a panel of T-cell, B-cell, macrophage, and DC immunohistochemical markers. Positive cells were quantitated in a blinded fashion. There was a significant increase in the number of DCs (HLA-DR+, S100+, factor XIIIa+) and CD45R0+ T cells in the skin and in the tumors Injected with GM-CSF at all dose levels. Uninjected control tumors showed no increase in HLA-DR+ cells or T-cell infiltrate, but did show an Increase in S100+ and factor XIIIa+ cells, suggesting a non-DC population. ID GM-CSF administered in this manner recruited DCs into melanoma tumors and normal skin. Although no antitumor effects were seen, this represents a potential method of preparing skin sites for vaccine delivery.