Cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells are essential effectors of anti-tumor immune responses in vivo. Dendritic cells (DC) 'prime' tumor antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes; thus, we investigated whether DC might also trigger the innate, NK cell-mediated anti-tumor immunity. In mice with MHC class I-negative tumors, adoptively transferred- or Flt3 ligand-expanded DC promoted NK cell-dependent anti-tumor effects. In vitro studies demonstrated a cell-to-cell contact between DC and resting NK cells that resulted in a substantial increase in both NK cell cytolytic activity and IFN-gamma production. Thus, DC are involved in the interaction between innate and adaptive immune responses.