Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer in Caucasians. Here we report on the identification of biomarkers of human cutaneous SCC cell lines in vitro and tissue samples in vivo using DermArray and PharmArray DNA microarrays, consisting of ca. 7400 unique human cDNAs. Differentially expressed genes were identified in two facial skin SCC cell lines (SCC 12 and SCC 13) compared to normal keratinocytes, and three cutaneous SCC tissue samples compared to normal skin. Quantitative validations of up- and down-regulated biomarkers were performed by qRT-PCR on 23 biomarker genes for the cell lines and 20 biomarker genes for the tumor tissues. In addition, three oral SCC cell lines were also included in the qRT-PCR validations for comparison, and the biomarker profiles were highly similar between the cutaneous and the oral SCC cell lines for all 23 biomarkers examined. The expression profiles for a variety of non-cutaneous SCC types, such as head-and-neck, oral, and lung, have been previously published. This report is the first to describe biomarkers for cutaneous SCC in two contexts, in vitro and in vivo. Although there was minimal overlap between the two different contexts using DNA microarrays, five genes were found common to both the cell lines and tissues, namely fibronectin 1, annexin A5, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, zinc-finger protein 254, and huntingtin-associated protein interacting protein. Some of our previously published biomarkers of normal keratinocytes were down-regulated in SCC, suggestive of the dedifferentiated status of the transformed cells. While recent reports have identified some of the same genes as SCC biomarkers, for instance in head-and-neck cancer, thereby validating our approach, we have identified some novel biomarkers for cutaneous disease. These biomarker lists may be useful in molecular diagnostics of non-melanoma skin cancer, and a subset of the biomarkers might serve as suitable targets for drug discovery efforts of therapies for SCC. © 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.