Most tumor cells express antigens that can mediate recognition by host CD8(+) T cells. Cancers that are detected clinically must have evaded antitumor immune responses to grow progressively. Recent work has suggested two broad categories of tumor escape based on cellular and molecular characteristics of the tumor microenvironment. One major subset shows a T cell-inflamed phenotype consisting of infiltrating T cells, a broad chemokine profile and a type I interferon signature indicative of innate immune activation. These tumors appear to resist immune attack through the dominant inhibitory effects of immune system-suppressive pathways. The other major phenotype lacks this T cell-inflamed phenotype and appears to resist immune attack through immune system exclusion or ignorance. These two major phenotypes of tumor microenvironment may require distinct immunotherapeutic interventions for maximal therapeutic effect.