The lone CX3C chemokine, fractalkine (FK), is expressed in a membrane-bound form on activated endothelial cells and mediates attachment and firm adhesion of T cells, monocytes and NK cells. We now show that FK is associated with dendritic cells (DC) in epidermis and lymphoid organs. In normal human skin, dual-color fluorescence microscopy co-localized FK expression with Langerhans cells expressing CD1a. In tonsil, FK-positive DC expressed CD83, a marker for mature DC. Human and murine cultured DC up-regulated FK mRNA expression with maturation. Furthermore, CD40 ligation, but not TNF-alpha or lipopolysaccharide treatment, of activated, migratory DC that had migrated from skin explants resulted in a 2.5-fold increase of surface expression of FK without significant alterations of expression of CD80, CD86, CD54 or MHC class II. Since FK mediates adhesion of T cells to activated endothelial cells, the increased expression of FK during DC maturation (and particularly by CD40 ligation) may play a role in the ability of T cells and mature DC to form conjugates and engage in cell-cell communication.