Dendritic cell (DC) activation and antigen presentation are critical for efficient priming of T cell responses. Here, we study how lentiviral vectors (LVs) deliver antigen and activate DCs to generate T cell immunization in vivo. We report that antigenic proteins delivered in vector particles via pseudotransduction were sufficient to stimulate an antigen-specific immune response. The delivery of the viral genome encoding the antigen increased the magnitude of this response in vivo but was irrelevant in vitro. Activation of DCs by LVs was independent of MyD88, TRIF, and MAVS, ruling out an involvement of Toll-like receptor or RIG-I–like receptor signaling. Cellular DNA packaged in LV preparations induced DC activation by the host STING (stimulator of interferon genes) and cGAS (cyclic guanosine monophosphate–adenosine monophosphate synthase) pathway. Envelope-mediated viral fusion also activated DCs in a phosphoinositide 3-kinase–dependent but STING-independent process. Pseudotransduction, transduction, viral fusion, and delivery of cellular DNA collaborate to make the DC-targeted LV preparation an effective immunogen.