Dendritic cells (DCs) initiate and control immune responses. Plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) represent a unique DC subset able to promptly release large amounts of type I interferon (IFN-alphabeta) upon viral encounter. Here we report that depletion of pDCs from human blood mononuclear cells abrogates the secretion of specific and polyclonal IgGs in response to influenza virus. Furthermore, purified pDCs triggered with virus induce CD40-activated B cells to differentiate into plasma cells. Two pDC cytokines act sequentially, with IFN-alphabeta generating non-Ig-secreting plasma blasts and IL-6 inducing their differentiation into Ig-secreting plasma cells. These plasma cells display the high levels of CD38 found on tissue plasma cells. Thus, pDCs are critical for the generation of plasma cells and antibody responses.