Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) as an adjuvant in autologous cell-based anti-tumor immunotherapy has recently been approved for clinical application. To avoid the need for individualized processing of autologous cells, we developed a novel strategy based on the encapsulation of GM-CSF-secreting human allogeneic cells. GM-CSF-producing K562 cells showed high, stable and reproducible cytokine secretion when enclosed into macrocapsules. For clinical development, the cryopreservation of these devices is critical. Thawing of capsules frozen at different time points displayed differences in GM-CSF release shortly after thawing. However, similar secretion values to those of non-frozen control capsules were obtained 8 days after thawing at a rate of >1000 ng GM-CSF per capsule every 24 h. For future human application, longer and reinforced capsules were designed. After irradiation and cryopreservation, these capsules produced >300 ng GM-CSF per capsule every 24 h 1 week after thawing. The in vivo implantation of encapsulated K562 cells was evaluated in mice and showed preserved cell survival. Finally, as a proof of principle of biological activity, capsules containing B16-GM-CSF allogeneic cells implanted in mice induced a prompt inflammatory reaction. The ability to reliably achieve high adjuvant release using a standardized procedure may lead to a new clinical application of GM-CSF in cell-based cancer immunization. Cancer Gene Therapy (2011) 18, 553-562; doi:10.1038/cgt.2011.22; published online 13 May 2011