Dendritic cells (DCs) loaded with tumour antigen have become the centrepiece of clinical trials testing active immunotherapy strategies. Important variables include the source of DCs, the choice of antigens, the method of antigen loading and the route and timing of administration. Recently, the requirement for and the method of, DC maturation have been receiving particular attention. This is due to observations from in vitro studies and animal models demonstrating that mature DCs induce more potent antigen-specific T-cells responses than immature DCs. Furthermore, preliminary observations in human studies suggest that immature DCs might actually downregulate antigen-specific T-cell responses but mature DCs may augment them. Current studies are addressing how to define DC maturation, whether the variety of methods for maturation result in DCs with similar T-cell stimulatory capacity, how to maintain the maturational status and whether maturation in vitro before immunisation, or in vivo, after immunisation, results in better DC function.