We have shown previously that the generation of tumor-reactive CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes require qualitatively different signals from CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells that most likely are provided to dendritic cells (DCs). This raises the question of whether the two T cell subsets are equally able to deliver the initial activation signal to DCs. Using ovalbumin as a model antigen we show that naive CD4(+) T cells cannot activate immature DCs and do not become activated, even though they recognize antigen on immature DCs. In contrast, naive CD8(+) T cells rapidly activate DCs and subsequently start to proliferate. This suggests that CD8(+) T cells contribute to DC activation prior to CD4(+) T cells and implies that CD8(+) T cells can provide help to CD4(+) T cells.