Dendritic cells (DC) in 121 colorectal adenocarcinomas were investigated immunohistochemically, using anti-S-100 protein antibody. S-100(+)DC were recognized among the malignant cells and/or around the tumor and differed in distribution either from lysozyme-positive macrophages or from neuron-specific enolase-positive neural tissue. Patients with many S-100(+)DC (more than 30 cells per 10 high-power fields) in the tumor survived longer than did those with few such cells (less than 30 cells), most often with no metastases (P less than 0.001). The grade of S-100(+)DC infiltration was related to both density of lymphocytic infiltration in the primary tumor and the degree of paracortical hyperplasia in the regional lymph nodes (P less than 0.05). Dendritic cells, therefore, as antigen-presenting cells, conceivably mediate cell immunity in a tumor with lymphoid infiltration and in the regional lymph nodes. The number of S-100(+) DC in the primary colorectal carcinomas represents one aspect of such a series of antitumor immunoreaction, in vivo.