Laser thermotherapy is interesting from an immunological point of view since it can reduce tumor volume without causing immunosuppression at the same time as it may induce and/or enhance tumor immunity. In a rat liver tumor model, we have demonstrated that laser thermotherapy 1) is superior to surgical resection, 2) gives a strong rejection immunity associated with an immune cellular response of tumor-infiltrating macrophages and CD8 lymphocytes, 3) results in pronounced suppression of the growth of a simultaneous untreated tumor (distant bystander effect), 4) produces an increased anti-tumor lymphocyte proliferative response in tumor-draining and systemic lymph nodes and spleen, and 5) results in increased HSP70 immunoreactivity in tumors and tumor-infiltrating macrophages. Thus, the evidence for a laser-induced immunologic effect in tumor-bearing rats is strong. Some observations suggest that laser thermotherapy may be used for inducing favorable immunologic effects also in patients. Thus, we have shown a laser-induced bystander effect in a patient with malignant melanoma. In patients with breast cancer we have shown that laser thermotherapy induces intratumoral infiltration of immunocompetent cells like CD68 macrophages and CD8 lymphocytes. Laser thermotherapy is likely to be beneficial mainly when tumor burden is small, that is, when treatment is performed with curative intent, either with laser alone or together with surgical resection. For optimal effect, it appears likely that thermotherapy should be combined with other therapies. Most likely, a clinically meaningful effect can only be proven in prospective randomized studies comparing thermotherapy with other methods, particularly surgical resection.