Interleukin-12 (IL-12) promotes specific and long-lasting anti-tumor immunity mediated by T cells in a variety of murine tumor models. IL-12 also synergizes with B7.1 (CD80) co-stimulation to induce proliferation and cytokine production by both human and murine T cells in vitro. We evaluated the combined anti-tumor efficacy of IL-12 and B7.1 gene delivery in two apparently poorly immunogenic tumor models (TS/A and MCA207). In both of these models, expression of B7.1 and production of IL-12 in the inoculum led to improved anti-tumor immunity, with up to 80% long-term tumor-free animals (vs 0-20% of mice remaining tumor free when inoculated with either B7.1- or IL-12-transfected tumors alone). Tumor-free mice were capable of rejecting a subsequent rechallenge with the wild-type tumor in 66% of the cases. Cooperativity was dependent upon the level of IL-12 secreted by engineered cells. IL-12 delivery required B7 expression of therapeutic effects to be observed in these models. Vaccines provided at a site distal to a control, non-transfected tumor slowed (TS/A) or abrogated (MCA207) the progression of wild-type tumors. The synergistic anti-tumor effects associated with combined application of B7.1- and IL-12-transfected tumors were partially negated by systemic administration of the CD28-B7.1/B7.2 antagonist CTLA4-Ig or by inoculation with neutralizing antibodies directed against murine interferon-gamma or tumor necrosis factor-alpha, two cytokines elicited in response to IL-12 stimulation. These data support the potential clinical utility of combined gene therapy using IL-12- and B7.1-engineered autologous cells (tumor or fibroblasts) as a vaccine to elicit specific anti-tumor immunity.