B7 co-stimulation is necessary to activate resting T cells upon antigen recognition by the T cell receptor. To see whether expression of B7 may render human melanoma cells able to stimulate T cells, a cloned melanoma line (Me1B6), which did not express B7-1, was transfected with the human B7-1 gene. In proliferation assays, B7-1 transfected cells (Me1B6/B7) showed greater stimulatory activity of allogeneic and autologous peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) compared to parental, non-transfected tumor cells. This effect was also seen when allogeneic CD8+ and CD4+ subpopulations were used as effectors. In these studies, activation of lymphocytes was B7-1-dependent and HLA classes I and II mediated. The higher proliferation correlated with an increased lytic activity by PBL stimulated with B7-1+ tumor cells against the untransfected Me1B6. Furthermore, PBL from a metastatic melanoma patient stimulated by Me1B6/B7 developed an higher lytic activity not only against Me1B6 but also against their autologous, B7-1- tumor. Finally, after Me1B6/B7 stimulation, PBL released interleukin (IL)-2 and interferon-gamma, but not IL-4, suggesting a Th1-mediated response. These data support the use of B7-1 transfected melanoma cells in the therapeutic vaccination of melanoma patients.