Solid organ transplant recipients have a 60-250-fold increased likelihood of developing sunlight-induced squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) compared with the general population. This increased risk is linked to the immunosuppressive drugs taken by these patients to modulate T cell function, thus preventing organ rejection. To determine the importance of T cells in the development of cutaneous SCC, we examined the effects of selectively depleting Skh-1 mice of systemic CD4+ or CD8+ T cells, using monoclonal antibodies, on ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation-induced inflammation and tumor development. Decreases in systemic CD4+ but not CD8+ T cells significantly increased and prolonged the acute UVB-induced cutaneous inflammatory response, as measured by neutrophil influx, myeloperoxidase activity, and prostaglandin E2 levels. Significantly more p53+ keratinocytes were observed in UVB-exposed CD4-depleted than in CD4-replete mice, and this difference was abrogated in mice depleted of neutrophils before UVB exposure. Increased acute inflammation was associated with significantly increased tumor numbers in CD4-depleted mice chronically exposed to UVB. Furthermore, topical treatment with the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib significantly decreased tumor numbers in both CD4-replete and CD4-depleted mice. Our findings suggest that CD4+ T cells play an important role in modulating both the acute inflammatory and the chronic carcinogenic response of the skin to UVB.