The goal of this work was to optimize dendritic cell (DC) preparations obtained from patients suffering from chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and compare them with DC prepared from normal CD14+ mononuclear cells (MNC). We studied normal DC and bcr-abl+ leukemic DC (CML-DC) yields, expression of membrane molecules, differentiation status, and ability to stimulate T cells. We isolated DC precursors from PBMC by CD14-specific immunoadsorption and cultured them for 7 days in GM-CSF and IL-4, followed by a 3-day incubation to fully differentiate the cells. We evaluated cultures of CML-DC using RPMI 1640 medium supplemented with FBS and X-VIVO 15 medium containing human AB serum. In contrast to cells matured in RPMI 1640, virtually all cells incubated in X-VIVO 15 expressed CD83, a marker of mature DC. CML-DC and normal DC were indistinguishable in expression of CD83, resulting in the highest percentage reported so far. The yields of normal DC and CML-DC from CD14+ cells were indistinguishable. The percentage of bcr-abl+ cells in PBMC varied among patients between 65% and 97% and the final CML-DC preparations were >98% bcr-abl+ the highest purity of bcr-abl+ cells to date. Normal DC and CML-DC were equally effective in stimulating proliferation of allogeneic and autologous T cells. These techniques provide highly enriched, mature, functional CML-DC.