A novel lectin, isolated from the basidiomycete mushroom Clitocybe nebularis and termed C. nebularis lectin (CNL), exhibits an immunostimulatory effect on the most potent antigen-presenting cells, the dendritic cells (DCs). Treatment of human monocyte-derived DCs with CNL in doses from 1 to 10 μg/ml resulted in a dose-dependent induction of overall DC maturation characteristics. Exposure of DCs to CNL for 48 hr resulted in extensive up-regulation of co-stimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86, as well as of the maturation marker CD83 and HLA-DR molecules. Such CNL-matured DCs (CNL-DCs) were capable of inducing a T helper type 1-polarized response in naive CD4+ CD45RA+ T cells in 5-day allogeneic co-cultures. The allostimulatory potential of CNL-DCs was significantly increased relative to untreated controls, as was their capacity to produce several pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6, interleukin-8 and tumour necrosis factor-α. By using a specific Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signalling inhibitor, CLI-095, as well as Myd88 inhibitory peptide, we have shown that DC activation by CNL is completely dependent on the TLR4 activation pathway. Furthermore, activation of TLR4 by CNL was confirmed via TLR4 reporter assay. Measurement of p65 nuclear factor-κB and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation levels following CNL stimulation of DCs revealed primarily an increase in nuclear factor-κB activity, with less effect on the induction of p38 MAPK signalling than of lipopolysaccharide-matured DCs. The CNL had the ability to activate human DCs in such a way as to subsequently direct T helper type 1 T-cell responses. Our results encourage the use of mushroom-derived lectins for use in therapeutic strategies with aims such as to strengthen anti-tumour immune responses.