Determining how tumor immunity is regulated requires understanding the extent to which the anti-tumor immune response "functions" in vivo without therapeutic intervention. To better understand this question, we developed advanced multimodal reflectance confocal/two photon fluorescence intra-vital imaging techniques to use in combination with traditional ex vivo analysis of tumor specific T cells. By transferring small numbers of melanoma-specific CD8+ T cells (Pmel-1), in an attempt to mimic physiologic conditions, we found that B16 tumor growth alone was sufficient to induce naive Pmel-1 T cell proliferation and acquisition of effector phenotype. Tumor -primed Pmel-1 T cells, are capable of killing target cells in the periphery and secrete IFNγ, but are unable to mediate tumor regression. Within the tumor, Pmel-1 T cells have highly confined mobility, displaying long term interactions with tumor cells. In contrast, adoptively transferred non tumor-specific OT-I T cells show neither confined mobility, nor long term interaction with B16 tumor cells, suggesting that intra-tumor recognition of cognate self antigen by Pmel-1 T cells occurs during tumor growth. Together, these data indicate that lack of anti-tumor efficacy is not solely due to ignorance of self antigen in the tumor microenvironment but rather to active immunosuppressive influences preventing a protective immune response.