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Dendritic cells (DCs) are known to be essential for the induction and regulation of immune responses. Non-human primates are essential in biomedical research and contribute to our understanding of the involvement of DCs in human infectious diseases. However, no direct single-platform method for quantifying DC precursors has yet been optimized in macaques to give accurate absolute blood counts of these rare-event cell populations in the blood. We adapted a rapid whole-blood assay for the absolute quantification of DCs in cynomolgous macaques by four-colour flow cytometry, using a single-platform assay compatible with human blood. Cynomolgus macaque plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) and CD1c+ myeloid DCs (CD1c+ mDCs) were quantified in the blood of 34 healthy macaques and the results obtained were compared with those for blood samples from 11 healthy humans. In addition, circulating absolute numbers of pDCs were quantified in cynomolgus macaques chronically infected with SIVmac. During infection, pDC counts decreased whereas circulating CD1c+ mDC counts increased. Information regarding absolute pDC and mDC counts in non-human primates may improve our understanding of the role of these cells in SIV/HIV infection and in other infectious diseases.