Active suppression is mediated by a subpopulation of CD4(+) T cells that prevents autoimmunity. However, the mechanisms involved in their differentiation in vivo are currently under intensive research. Here we show that in vitro culture of bone marrow cells in the presence of IL-10 induces the differentiation of a distinct subset of dendritic cells with a specific expression of CD45RB. These CD11c(low)CD45RB(high) DCs are present in the spleen and lymph nodes of normal mice and are significantly enriched in the spleen of IL-10 Tg mice. These natural or in vitro-derived DCs display plasmacytoid morphology and an immature-like phenotype, and secrete high levels of IL-10 after activation. OVA peptide-pulsed CD11c(low)CD45RB(high) DCs specifically induce tolerance through the differentiation of Tr1 cells in vitro and in vivo. Our findings identify a natural DC subset that induces the differentiation of Tr1 cells and suggest their therapeutic use.