Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are one of the major factors limiting the efficacy of immune therapy. In a clinical trial of patients with extensive stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC), we tested the possibility that targeting MDSC can improve the induction of immune responses by a cancer vaccine. Forty-one patients with extensive stage SCLC were randomized into three arms: arm A--control, arm B--vaccination with dendritic cells transduced with wild-type p53, and arm C--vaccination in combination with MDSC targeted therapy with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA). Interim results of the ongoing clinical trial are presented. Pre-treatment levels of MDSC populations in patients from all three arms were similar. Vaccine alone did not affect the proportion of MDSC, whereas in patients treated with ATRA, the MDSC decreased more than twofold (p = 0.02). Before the start of treatment, no patients had detectable p53-specific responses in IFN-γ ELISPOT. Sequential measurements did not show positive p53 responses in any of the 14 patients from arm A. After immunization, only 3 out of 15 patients (20 %) from arm B developed a p53-specific response (p = 0.22). In contrast, in arm C, 5 out of 12 patients (41.7 %) had detectable p53 responses (p = 0.012). The proportion of granzyme B-positive CD8(+) T cells was increased only in patients from arm C but not in arm B. Depletion of MDSC substantially improved the immune response to vaccination, suggesting that this approach can be used to enhance the effect of immune interventions in cancer.