As, the outcome of vaccine therapy was extremely heterogeneous in both human and murine hepatitis B virus (HBV)-carriers, the experiments presented here were performed to find out a prognostic marker of vaccine therapy using an animal model of HBV-carrier state, HBV-transgenic mice (Tg). Neither the prevaccinated titres of viral markers, such as hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) or HBV DNA, nor the function of lymphocytes prior to vaccination, had significant influence on the outcome of vaccine therapy. Two independent, placebo-controlled, trials of vaccine therapy for 12 months, one in 17 HBV-Tg and the other in 26 HBV-Tg (total, n=43) showed that the eight of 17 and 15 of 26 HBV-Tg that had potent dendritic cell (DC) function at the start of vaccine therapy became completely negative for HBsAg, HBeAg and reduced HBV DNA, whereas all 19 HBV-Tg that had poor DC function at the start of vaccine therapy became complete non-responders, although, the prevaccinated titres of HBsAg, and HBeAg were similar in all 43 HBV-Tg. Further study to find the mechanism underlying this revealed that there was up-regulation of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II, CD86 antigens on DC and increased production of interleukin-12 (IL-12) by DC and of IL-2, and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in DC/T-cell cultures when vaccine containing HBsAg was injected in HBV-Tg with potent DC function but not in HBV-Tg with poor DC function. This is the first report on the prognostic importance of DC during an immune therapy. Degree of activation of DC following vaccination would possibly help to predict the outcome of vaccine therapy in human HBV-carriers. These data also provide the scientific and logical basis to up-regulate the function of the DC before an immune therapy.