The regulation of tumor growth by cytokine-induced alterations in host effector cell recruitment and activation is intimately associated with leukocyte adhesion and angiogenic modulation. In the present study, we have developed a novel tumor model to investigate this complex series of events in response to cytokine administration. Gelatin sponges containing recombinant human basic fibroblast growth factor (rhFGFb) and B16F10 melanoma cells were implanted onto the serosal surface of the left lateral hepatic lobe in syngeneic C57BL/6 mice. The tumor model was characterized by progressive tumor growth initially localized within the sponge and the subsequent development of peritoneal carcinomatosis. Microscopic examination of the sponge matrix revealed well developed tumor-associated vascular structures and areas of endothelial cell activation as evidenced by leukocyte margination. Treatment of mice 3 days after sponge implantation with a therapeutic regimen consisting of pulse recombinant human interleukin-2 (rhIL-2) combined with recombinant murine interleukin-12 (rmIL-12) resulted in a marked hepatic mononuclear infiltrate and inhibition of tumor growth. In contrast to the control group, sponges from mice treated with rhIL-2/rmIL-12 demonstrated an overall lack of cellularity and vascular structure. The regimen of rhIL-2 in combination with rmIL-12 was equally effective against gelatin sponge implants of rhFGFb/B16F10 melanoma in SCID mice treated with anti-asialo-GM1 in the absence of a mononuclear infiltration, suggesting that T, B, and/or NK cells were not the principal mediators of the anti-tumor response in this tumor model. The absence of vascularity within the sponge after treatment suggests that a potential mechanism of rhIL-2/rmIL-12 anti-tumor activity is the inhibition of neovascular growth associated with the establishment of tumor lesions. This potential mechanism could be dissociated from the known activities of these two cytokines to induce the recruitment and activation of host effector cells. Moreover, this model provides a unique opportunity to study the cellular and molecular mechanism(s) underlying both tumor angiogenesis and leukocyte recruitment to metastatic lesions.