Dendritic cells (DCs) were derived from human peripheral blood monocytes or cord blood monocytes cultured in the presence of IL-4 and GM-CSF. Adult and cord DCs were observed to have comparable immature phenotypes. However, the increase in surface expression of HLA-DR and CD86 after addition of LPS was significantly attenuated in cord DCs, with CD25 and CD83 expression also markedly reduced. Cord DCs were also unable to produce IL-12p70, failed to down-regulate expression of the chemokine receptor CCR5 and induced lower levels of IFN-gamma production from allogeneic naive CD4+ T cells than their adult counterparts. In contrast, the kinetics of the production of TNF-alpha and IL-10 in response to LPS stimulation was comparable to adult DCs. The reduced ability of cord DCs to attain a fully mature adult phenotype, and to activate naive CD4+ T cells to produce IFN-gamma, suggests that they are intrinsically preprogrammed against the generation of Th-1 immune responses.