Tumor growth and progression are critically controlled by alterations in the microenvironment often caused by an aberrant expression of growth factors and receptors. We demonstrated previously that tumor progression in patients and in the experimental HaCaT tumor model for skin squamous cell carcinomas is associated with a constitutive neoexpression of the hematopoietic growth factors granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), causing an autocrine stimulation of tumor cell proliferation and migration in vitro. To analyze the critical contribution of both factors to tumor progression, G-CSF or GM-CSF was stably transfected in factor-negative benign tumor cells. Forced expression of GM-CSF resulted in invasive growth and enhanced tumor cell proliferation in a three-dimensional culture model in vitro, yet tumor growth in vivo remained only transient. Constitutive expression of G-CSF, however, caused a shift from benign to malignant and strongly angiogenic tumors. Moreover, cells recultured from G-CSF-transfected tumors exhibited enhanced tumor aggressiveness upon reinjection, i.e., earlier onset and faster tumor expansion. Remarkably, this further step in tumor progression was again associated with the constitutive expression of GM-CSF strongly indicating a synergistic action of both factors. Additionally, expression of GM-CSF in the transfected tumors mediated an earlier recruitment of granulocytes and macrophages to the tumor site, and expression of G-CSF induced an enhanced and persistent angiogenesis and increased the number of granulocytes and macrophages in the tumor vicinity. Thus both factors directly stimulate tumor cell growth and, by modulating the tumor stroma, induce a microenvironment that promotes tumor progression.