To prime immune responses, dendritic cells (DCs) need to be activated to acquire T cell stimulatory capacity. Although some stimuli trigger interleukin 12 (IL-12) production that leads to T helper cell type I (TH1) polarization, others fail to do so and favor TH2 polarization. We show that after activation by lipopolysaccharide, DCs produced IL-12 only transiently and became refractory to further stimulation. The exhaustion of cytokine production impacted the T cell polarizing process. Soon after stimulation DCs primed strong TH1 responses, whereas at later time points the same cells preferentially primed TH2 and nonpolarized T cells. These findings indicate that during an immune response, T cell priming conditions may change in the lymph nodes, suggesting another mechanism for the regulation of effector and memory T cells.