Background Laquinimod is an oral immunomodulator in clinical development to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Laquinimod is in clinical development for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and Huntington Disease (HD). The objective of this study is to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics (PK) and cytoimmunologic effects following escalating doses of laquinimod in patients with RRMS. Methods One hundred twelve patients were randomly assigned to laquinimod/placebo in a series of separate dose- escalating cohorts starting from a daily oral dose of 0.9 mg/1.2 mg escalating to 2.7 mg, in 0.3 mg increments. Results Twenty-eight patients received placebo and 84 received laquinimod ranging from 0.9 to 2.7 mg. No deaths occurred. One serious adverse event (SAE) of perichondritis was reported, which was unrelated to laquinimod (0.9 mg). There was no increased incidence of adverse events (AEs) with escalating doses. Laquinimod-treated patients showed more abnormal laboratory levels in liver enzymes, P-amylase, C-reactive protein (CRP), and fibrinogen, but most shifts were clinically non- significant. The exposure of laquinimod was dose proportional and linear in the tested dose range. An immunological substudy showed significant dose- dependent decreases in 6-sulpho LacNAc + dendritic cell (slanDC) frequency following laquinimod compared to placebo. Conclusion Laquinimod doses up to 2.7 mg were safely administered to patients with RRMS. An in vivo effect of laquinimod on the innate immune system was demonstrated. Trial registration EudraCT Number: 2009-011234-99. Registered 23 June 2009.