The coincidence of skin tumors and elevated mast cell (MC) numbers has been known for many years. However, it has remained controversial whether, in this context, MCs promote or inhibit tumor growth. Addressing this problem, different melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma cell lines were co-cultivated with primary, dermal MC for 24 h and gene or protein expression of cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-8 (IL-8) estimated. Co-culture with MCs led to an increase in IL-8 gene expression and IL-8 protein release from melanoma cells and IL-6 and IL-8 gene expression and protein release from squamous cell carcinoma cells, respectively. Moreover induction of IL-6 and IL-8 was primarily regulated by MC-derived TNF-α. Our data suggest an interplay between MCs and tumor cells, which results in altered cytokine release and may, thus, have an impact on tumor growth, invasion and neovascularisation.