Human tumors express a number of protein antigens that can be recognized by T cells, thus providing potential targets for cancer immunotherapy. Dendritic cells (DCs) are rare leukocytes that are uniquely potent in their ability to present antigens to T cells, and this property has prompted their recent application to therapeutic cancer vaccines. Isolated DCs loaded with tumor antigen ex vivo and administered as a cellular vaccine have been found to induce protective and therapeutic anti-tumor immunity in experimental animals. In pilot clinical trials of DC vaccination for patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and melanoma, induction of anti-tumor immune responses and tumor regressions have been observed. Additional trials of DC vaccination for a variety of human cancers are under way, and methods for targeting tumor antigens to DCs in vivo are also being explored. Exploitation of the antigen-presenting properties of DCs thus offers promise for the development of effective cancer immunotherapies.