We quantitatively evaluated dendritic cell (DC) infiltration in primary colorectal cancers from 44 patients and metastatic colorectal tumors from 13 patients using immunohistochemistry for the DC marker CD83, HLA-DR, and the DC activation molecules CD40 and CD86. Nearly all CD83+ cells were also HLA-DR+, CD40+, and CD86+, indicating that the DCs that infiltrate colon cancer in vivo express the activation and costimulatory molecules associated with a mature DC phenotype. The density of DCs in colorectal cancer primaries was three times lower than that seen in normal colonic mucosa (0.29 versus 0.84 CD83+ cells/ high-power field (hpf), p < 0.001). Dendritic cells were rarely observed in metastatic tumors: DC density in metastases was sixfold lower than in colorectal primary tumors (0.05 versus 0.29 CD83+ cells/hpf, p < 0.001). Because cytokines have been shown, in vitro, to exert potent effects on DCs, we also evaluated the relationship between intratumor DC density and the expression of cytokines by tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and tumor cells. Expression of interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor beta by either TIL or tumor cells was not associated with decreased DC density or decreased expression of CD40 or CD86 on DCs. Tumor expression of vascular endothelial growth factor was associated with a more than twofold increase in DC density (p = 0.01). Patients who had a high proportion of TILs expressing tumor necrosis factor (TNF) had a greater intratumor mature DC density than patients with a low proportion of TNF + TIL (0.54 versus 0.21 CD83+ cells/hpf, p < 0.01).