Dermcidin (DCD), an antimicrobial peptide with a broad spectrum of activity against bacteria such as Propionibacterum acnes, is expressed constitutively in sweat in the absence of stimulation due to injury or inflammation. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between DCD expression and acne vulgaris associated with P. acnes. The antimicrobial activity of recombinant full-length DCD (50 μg/ml) was 97% against Escherichia coli and 100% against Staphylococcus aureus. Antimicrobial activity against P. acnes ranged from 68% at 50 μg/ml DCD to 83% at 270 μg/ml DCD. DCD concentration in sweat from patients with acne vulgaris (median 9.8 μg/ml, range 6.9-95.3 μg/ml) was significantly lower than in healthy subjects (median 136.7 μg/ml, range 45.4-201.6 μg/ml) (p = 0.001). DCD demonstrated concentration-dependent, but partial, microbicidal activity against P. acnes. These results suggest that reduced DCD concentration in sweat in patients with inflammatory acne may permit proliferation of P. acnes in pilosebaceous units, resulting in progression of inflammatory acne.