Human peripheral blood contains two populations of dendritic cells (DC) but their developmental relationship has not been established. Freshly isolated CD11c- DC possessed a lymphoid morphology, lacked myeloid markers but expressed lymphoid markers (CD4+ CD10+) whilst the CD11c+ DC were monocytoid in appearance and expressed myeloid markers. Although both populations were allostimulatory, only the CD11c+ DC were able to take up antigen. Irrespective of the culture conditions the CD11c- cells developed into CD11c- CD13- CD33- CD4+ CD1a- CD83+/- DC. In contrast, cultured CD11c+ cells developed the phenotype CD11c+ CD13+ CD33+/- CD4- CD1a+ CD83+ CD9+. Only the CD11c+ DC expressed macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) receptor and gave rise to CD14+, esterase+, phagocytic macrophages when cultured in M-CSF. These data suggest that these two populations of DC represent distinct lineages of antigen-presenting DC.