Dendritic cells (DCs) are highly efficient antigen-presenting cells (APCs) that collect antigen in body tissues and transport them to draining lymph nodes. Antigenic peptides are loaded onto major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules for presentation to naive T cells, resulting in the induction of cellular and humoral immune responses. DCs take up antigen through phagocytosis, pinocytosis, and endocytosis via different groups of receptor families, such as Fc receptors for antigen-antibody complexes, C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) for glycoproteins, and pattern recognition receptors, such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs), for microbial antigens. Uptake of antigen by CLRs leads to presentation of antigens on MHC class I and II molecules. DCs are well equipped to distinguish between self- and nonself-antigens by the variable expression of cell-surface receptors such as CLRs and TLRs. In the steady state, DCs are not immunologically quiescent but use their antigen-handling capacities to maintain peripheral tolerance. DCs are continuously sampling and presenting self- and harmless environmental proteins to silence immune activation. Uptake of self-components in the intestine and airways are good examples of sites where continuous presentation of self- and foreign antigens occurs without immune activation. In contrast, efficient antigen-specific immune activation occurs upon encounter of DCs with nonself-pathogens. Recognition of pathogens by DCs triggers specific receptors such as TLRs that result in DC maturation and subsequently immune activation. Here we discuss the concept that cross talk between TLRs and CLRs, differentially expressed by subsets of DCs, accounts for the different pathways to peripheral tolerance, such as deletion and suppression, and immune activation.