Dendritic cells (DCs) act as a portal for virus invasion and as the most potent antigen-presenting cells in antiviral host defense. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 has served as the paradigm for virus interaction with DCs. HIV-1 infection of DCs via its primary CD4 receptor and secondary chemokine receptors leads to full virus replication (cis infection), whereas binding to C-type lectin receptors results both in cis replication, as well as transfer and replication of virus in CD4(pos) T cells (trans infection). DCs respond to this invasion by processing viral proteins through MHC class I and II pathways and undergoing a maturation that enhances their presentation of antigen to T cells for induction of adaptive antiviral immunity. HIV-1 and other viruses have evolved mechanisms to subvert this immune function. Engineering of DCs with various forms of viral immunogens and co-treatment with cytokines and chemokines is being used as an immunotherapy for HIV-1 and other viral infections.