Immature dendritic cells (iDCs) do not mature after uptake of apoptotic cells and may play a role in the induction of peripheral tolerance to self antigens derived from apoptotic material. The integrins, alphavbeta3, alphavbeta5, and the scavenger receptor, CD36, have been shown to mediate uptake of apoptotic cells by iDCs. However, it is not known whether the complement system, also takes part in this process. In this study we investigated the ability of iDCs to bind to apoptotic cells opsonized by iC3b. Monocyte-derived dendritic cells were offered apoptotic Jurkat cells opsonized by autologous iC3b and labeled with 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethyl-indocarbocyanineperchlorate. A significant increase (P < 0.001) in the amount of cleared apoptotic cells was seen at low ratios. Despite increased efficiency of uptake, interaction between iC3b-opsonized apoptotic cells and iDCs down-regulated the expression of major histocompatibility complex class II, CD86, CC chemokine receptor (CCR)2, CCR5, and beta2-integrins (P < 0.001), and up-regulated expression of CCR7 (P < 0.001). In addition, iDC maturation responses to CD40L and lipopolysaccharide were significantly inhibited. We conclude that opsonization of apoptotic cells by iC3b induces tolerant iDCs that are able to migrate to lymph nodes.