The incidence of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is rising worldwide. We have examined the role of complement components in the progression of cSCC. Analysis of cSCC cell lines (n=8) and normal human epidermal keratinocytes (n=11) with whole transcriptome profiling (SOLiD), quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR, and western blotting revealed marked overexpression of complement factor I (CFI) in cSCC cells. Immunohistochemical analysis for CFI in vivo showed stronger tumor cell-specific labeling intensity in invasive sporadic cSCCs (n=83) and recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa-associated cSCCs (n=7) than in cSCC in situ (n=65), premalignant epidermal lesions (actinic keratoses, n=64), benign epidermal papillomas (seborrheic keratoses, n=39), and normal skin (n=9). The expression of CFI was higher in the aggressive Ha-ras-transformed cell line (RT3) than in less tumorigenic HaCaT cell lines (HaCaT, A5, and II-4). The expression of CFI by cSCC cells was upregulated by IFN-γ and IL-1β. Knockdown of CFI expression inhibited proliferation and migration of cSCC cells and resulted in inhibition of basal extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 activation. Knockdown of CFI expression potently inhibited growth of human cSCC xenograft tumors in vivo. These results provide evidence for the role of CFI in the progression of cSCC and identify it as a potential therapeutic target in this nonmelanoma skin cancer.