Exposure of naïve B cells to the cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) and/or antigen leads to a state of "priming," in which subsequent aggregation of major histocompatibility complex class II molecules induces the mobilization of calcium ions and cell proliferation. However, it is not clear how critical this priming is for immune responses or how it is normally induced in vivo. Injection of mice with the commonly used adjuvant alum led to priming of splenic B cells and to the accumulation in the spleen of a previously unknown population of IL-4-producing, Gr1+ cells. These cells and IL-4 were both required for in vivo priming and expansion of antigen-specific B cells, as well as for optimal production of antibody. These studies reveal a key role for a previously unknown accessory myeloid cell population in the generation of humoral immune responses.