Expression of class I human leucocyte antigens (HLA) on the surface of malignant cells is critical for their recognition and destruction by cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Surface expression requires assembly and folding of HLA class I molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum with the assistance of proteins such as Transporter associated with Antigen Processing (TAP) and tapasin. Interferon-γ induces both TAP and tapasin so dissection of which protein contributes more to HLA class I expression has not been possible previously. In this study, we take advantage of a human melanoma cell line in which TAP can be induced, but tapasin cannot. Interferon-γ increases TAP protein levels dramatically but HLA class I expression at the cell surface does not increase substantially, indicating that a large increase in peptide supply is not sufficient to increase HLA class I expression. On the other hand, transfection of either allelic form of tapasin (R240 or T240) enhances HLA-B*5001 and HLA-B*5701 antigen expression considerably with only a modest increase in TAP. Together, these data indicate that in the presence of minimal TAP activity, tapasin can promote substantial HLA class I expression at the cell surface.