Whether epithelial cells play a role in triggering the immune cascade leading to T helper 2 (T(H)2)-type allergic inflammation is not known. We show here that human thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) potently activated CD11c(+) dendritic cells (DCs) and induced production of the T(H)2-attracting chemokines TARC (thymus and activation-regulated chemokine; also known as CCL17) and MDC (macrophage-derived chemokine; CCL22). TSLP-activated DCs primed naïve T(H) cells to produce the proallergic cytokines interleukin 4 (IL-4), IL-5, IL-13 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, while down-regulating IL-10 and interferon-gamma. TSLP was highly expressed by epithelial cells, especially keratinocytes from patients with atopic dermatitis. TSLP expression was associated with Langerhans cell migration and activation in situ. These findings shed new light on the function of human TSLP and the role played by epithelial cells and DCs in initiating allergic inflammation.