The feasibility of dendritic cells (DC) for cancer immunotherapy after transfection by electroporation with mRNA encoding the human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) was investigated. Both, total RNA from the CEA(+) colon cancer cell line SW480 and mRNA transcribed in vitro from cDNA3.1-plasmids (pcDNA3.1+/-HisC) with a CEA-insert (ivt-CEA-mRNA, ivt-CEA/HisC-mRNA) were used. Labelled ivt-CEA-mRNA was detectable in DC by light and electron microscopy and by fluorescence-activated cell-sorting (FACS) even 15 min after electroporation. Four hours after transfection with ivt-CEA/HisC-mRNA, we detected specific expression of CEA and the histidine-tag by immunofluorescence microscopy and by FACS. CEA-specific T lymphocytes were successfully primed by transfected DC and were able to lyse CEA-expressing target cells, even from the CEA-expressing human colon adenocarcinoma cell line SW480. Thus, DC transfected by electroporation with CEA-mRNA are valuable tools for the immunotherapy of CEA(+) tumour entities.