Dendritic cells (DCs), which represent a key type of antigen-presenting cell (APC), are important for the development of innate and adaptive immunity. DCs are involved in T cell activation in at least two main ways: priming via direct processing/presentation of soluble antigen taken up from the microenvironment (conventional priming), and processing/presentation of antigen released from other cells (cross-priming). relB, a component of the NF-kappaB complex of transcription factors, is a critical regulator of the differentiation of DCs. In mice, lack of relB impairs DCs derived from bone marrow both in number and function. Here relB (-/-) bone marrow chimera mice is used to study the APC function of residual DCs in presentation of soluble antigen and cross-priming. It is found that the DCs in these mice are profoundly deficient in their ability to both prime and cross-prime T cell responses. It was concluded that the relB gene is involved in regulating the APC function of DCs in vivo.