Classification of cytokines as pro-versus anti-inflammatory might not apply to the pleiotropic effects of interleukin-10 (IL-10). Several reports suggest that IL-10 enhances the function of natural killer cells, which leads, through pathogen destruction, to increased antigen availability. In addition, by inhibiting the maturation of antigen-presenting cells (APCs), IL-10 preserves their ability for antigen uptake while simultaneously hampering their migration to draining lymph nodes. This review suggests that this "antigen-loading" phase might constitute an important component of the innate immune reaction to a pathogen. Additional proinflammatory stimuli might subsequently lead to maturation of "loaded" APCs that could migrate to draining lymph nodes or recruit and activate adaptive immune effectors locally.