Dendritic cells are critical initiators of immune responses mediated by T and B lymphocytes. Dendritic cells process antigens captured in the periphery, then emigrate to lymphoid organs. There they complete their maturation by upregulating important accessory molecules and secreting cytokines, all of which support potent stimulation of antigen-specific lymphocytes. These lymphocytes return to the periphery to complete the immune response. Investigators have discovered culture systems that use exogenous hematopoietic cytokines to support the growth, differentiation, and maturation of dendritic cells in larger numbers and greater purity than was ever before possible. This has rendered dendritic cells accessible to detailed experimental evaluations and clinical applications. Dendritic cells provide a powerful means of controlling both normal and pathologic immunity.