Two different types of CpG motif-containing oligonucleotides (CpG ODN) have been described: CpG-A with high induction of IFN-alpha in plasmacytoid dendritic cells; and CpG-B with little induction of IFN-alpha, but potent activation of B cells. In this study, we demonstrate that CpG-A fail to activate B cells unless plasmacytoid dendritic cells are present. We identified a new set of CpG ODN sequences which induces high levels of IFN-alpha in plasmacytoid dendritic cells but remains capable of directly activating B cells. These new CpG ODN (termed CpG-C) are more potent stimulants of B cells than CpG-B due to their ability of directly and indirectly (via plasmacytoid dendritic cells) activating B cells. The sequence of CpG-C combines structural elements of both CpG-A and CpG-B. The most potent sequence, M362, contains a 5'-end 'TCGTCG-motif' and a 'GTCGTT-motif', both of which are present in CpG-B (ODN 2006); a palindromic sequence characteristic for CpG-A (ODN 2216); but no poly G motif required for CpG-A. In conclusion, we defined the first CpG-containing sequences that potently activate both TLR9-expressing immune cell subsets in humans, the plasmacytoid dendritic cell and the B cell. CpG-C may allow for improved therapeutic immuno-modulation in vivo.