CD8+ T cell responses can be generated against antigens that are not expressed directly within antigen-presenting cells (APCs), through a process known as cross-priming. To initiate cross-priming, APCs must both capture extracellular antigen and receive specific activation signals. We have investigated the nature of APC activation signals associated with virus infection that stimulate cross-priming. We show that infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus induces cross-priming by a mechanism dependent on type I interferon (IFN-alpha/beta). Activation of cross-priming by IFN-alpha/beta was independent of CD4+ T cell help or interaction of CD40 and CD40 ligand, and involved direct stimulation of dendritic cells. These data identify expression of IFN-alpha/beta as a mechanism for the induction of cross-priming during virus infections.