Epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs) play a pivotal role in the induction of cutaneous immune responses, including those provoked by chemical allergens. The delivery by LCs of allergen to draining lymph nodes requires cell migration from the skin, a process that is dependent upon the availability of epidermal cytokines -particularly TNF-alpha and IL-1beta. Here we consider the ways in which these cytokines interact with LCs to both induce and regulate their mobilization in response to skin sensitization. In addition, the effects of these cytokines on both the selectivity of LC migration from the skin and protection of LCs from cell death are considered. Finally, the possible counter-regulatory activity of other cutaneous cytokines and the influence of LCs on the development of selective T lymphocyte responses are explored.