Considerable evidence exists to show that activated T lymphocytes preferentially accumulate at sites of disease activity in sarcoidosis. Langerhans cells, which can be recognized by reactivity with an antibody to the T6 antigen are thought to play a primary role in T-lymphocyte activation by the skin, a tissue frequently involved in sarcoidosis. This immunohistologic study examined the distribution of OKT6-positive cells and surface expression of HLA-DR antigen in cutaneous sarcoid lesions. Skin specimens stained with an anti-HLA-DR antibody demonstrated diffuse staining of the granulomas. In addition, keratinocytes, which do not normally express HLA-DR antigens, were found to stain with monoclonal antibody to HLA-DR in an intercellular pattern. Examination of specimens for OKT6-reactive Langerhans cells revealed significantly greater concentrations in the epidermis overlying sarcoidal granulomas (33 ± 7 cells/mm) than in the epidermis of age-, sex-, and race-matched controls (11 ± 3 cells/mm, p < 0.001). Of greater importance was the demonstration that significant numbers of OKT6-positive cells were present within the dermal sarcoid granulomas (19-208/mm2) in a distribution that paralleled that of Leu-3a-positive T lymphocytes. These data suggest that the epidermis may participate in activation of lymphocytes in cutaneous sarcoidosis, and implicate OKT6-positive cells in granuloma formation.