To investigate specific properties of dendritic cells (DC) which are not shared by other antigen-presenting cells, we compared gene expression patterns of mouse DC and macrophages by differential mRNA display. One of the cDNA identified coded for a murine homolog of the human beta-chemokine, thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC). The gene is expressed in a subset of bone marrow-derived DC and is up-regulated after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation. In vivo, murine TARC (mTARC) is constitutively expressed by thymic DC, lymphnode DC and CD11c+ cells in the lung. No expression was detected in bone marrow-derived macrophages and LPS-activated B cells. Recombinant mTARC has no chemoattractant activity on naive peripheral CD4+ T cells. In contrast, mTARC induced migration of primed ovalbumin-specific CD4+ T cells with a preference for Th2 cells during the early phase of the T cell response. These observations suggest that mTARC directs migration of antigen-experienced T helper cells to DC in lymphoid as well as in non-lymphoid organs.