Dendritic cells (DC) are considered to be the most potent antigen-presenting cells (APC) in the immune system. In this study, we analyzed the regulation of apoptosis of human peripheral blood-derived DC. DC were generated from adherent peripheral blood mononuclear cells that had been cultured for 7 days with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin-4. These cells displayed phenotypic properties of DC, including dendritic processes, expression of CD1a and lack of expression of CD14, and were very potent at presenting soluble antigens to T cells. Blood-derived DC were demonstrated to express the Fas/CD95 antigen and an agonist antibody to CD95 strongly induced apoptotic cell death in these cells. Soluble trimeric CD40 ligand potently inhibited both CD95-mediated and spontaneous apoptosis in DC. The data suggest that interactions between members of the tumor necrosis factor family of ligands expressed by T cells with their receptors on DC play an important role in the regulation of apoptosis in DC during antigen presentation and may, therefore, regulate the duration of T cell expansion and cytokine production.