Chronic skin exposure to ultraviolet light stimulates the production of cytokines known to be involved in the initiation of skin cancer. Recent studies in mouse models suggested a role for macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) in the UVB-induced pathogenesis of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC). Our studies aimed at defining the pathophysiological function of MIF in cutaneous inflammatory reactions and in the development and progression of NMSC. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed a moderate expression of MIF in normal human skin samples but an enhanced expression of this cytokine in lesional skin of patients with actinic keratosis or cutaneous SCC. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay studies showed a time-dependent increase in MIF secretion after a moderate single-dose UVB irradiation in NHEKs and SCC tumor cells. MIF is known to interact with CXCR2, CXCR4 and CD74. These receptors are not constitutively expressed in keratinocytes and HaCaT cells and their expression is not induced by UVB irradiation either. However, stimulation with IFNγ upregulated CD74 surface expression in these cells. Affymetrix® Gene Chip analysis revealed that only keratinocytes prestimulated with IFNγ are responsive to MIF. These findings indicate that MIF may be an important factor in the pathogenesis of NMSC tumorigenesis and progression in an inflammatory environment.