Viral vectors represent a potential strategy for the treatment of human malignant tumors. Currently, recombinant adenovirus vectors are commonly used as gene therapy vehicles, as it possesses a proven safety profile in normal human cells. The recombinant adenovirus system has an ability to highly express exogenous genes and increase the stability of the carrier, which is only transiently expressed in the host cell genome, without integrating. Malignant melanoma cells are produced by the skin, and melanocyte tumors that exhibit higher malignant degrees lead to earlier transfer and higher mortality. In the present study, a recombinant adenovirus (rAd) was generated to express Anti-programmed death-1 (rAd-Anti-PD-1) and used to investigate the efficacy in melanoma cells and tumors. The results demonstrated that B16-F10 cell growth was significantly inhibited and the apoptosis incidence rate was markedly promoted following rAd-PD-1 treatment. The present study demonstrated that the production of α and β interferon was increased, which led to the induction of dendritic cell (DCs) maturation in rAd-anti-PD-1-treated mice. The present study indicated that rAd-anti-PD-1 exhibited the ability to generate more cluster of differentiation (CD)4+CD8+ T cells and induce a PD-1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte through DC-targeted surface antigens in mice. This resulted in a further enhanced recognition of melanoma cells due to DCs being targeted by the rAd-anti-PD-1-encoded PD-1. Notably, mice treated with the rAd-anti-PD-1-targeted PD-1 demonstrated an improved protection compared with tumor-bearing mice from the challenge group treated with a recombinant gutless adenovirus and Anti-PD-1. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that targeting the melanoma surface antigens via the rAd-anti-PD-1-infected tumor cells enhanced the ability of recombinant adenovirus to induce a potent tumor-inhibitory effect and antigen-specific immune response.