CD1 molecules are expressed by antigen-presenting cells such as dendritic cells and mediate primary immune responses to lipids and glycolipids which have been shown to be expressed by various tumors. Glycolipids are expressed by melanoma cells but, despite their immunogenicity, no efficient spontaneous immune responses are elicited. As IL-10 has previously been shown to down-regulate CD1a on dendritic cells and is known to be expressed by various melanoma cell lines, we investigated if melanoma-derived IL-10 could down-regulate CD1 molecule expression on dendritic cells as a possible way to circumvent immune recognition. We found that CD1a, CD1b, CD1c, and CD1d were significantly down-regulated on dendritic cells in metastatic ( n = 10) but not in primary melanoma lesions ( n = 10). We further detected significantly higher IL-10 protein levels in metastatic than in primary melanomas. Moreover, supernatants from metastatic melanomas were significantly more effective in down-regulating CD1 molecules on dendritic cells than supernatants from primary melanoma cultures. This effect was blocked using a neutralizing IL-10 antibody in a dose dependent manner. Our findings suggest that metastatic but not primary melanomas can down-regulate CD1 molecules on infiltrating dendritic cells by secreting IL-10 which may represent a novel way to escape the immune response directed against the tumor.