We report the effects of hemicellulase-treated Agaricus blazei (ABH) on the maturation of bone-marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs). ABH activated immature BMDCs, inducing up-regulation of surface molecules, such as CD40, CD80 and major histocompatibility complex class I antigens, as well as inducing allogeneic T-cell proliferation and T helper type 1 cell development. However, unlike lipopolysaccharide (LPS), ABH did not stimulate the BMDCs to produce proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-12 (IL-12) p40, tumour necrosis factor-alpha, or IL-1beta. In addition, ABH suppressed LPS-induced DC responses. Pretreatment of DCs with ABH markedly reduced the levels of LPS-induced cytokine secretion, while only slightly decreasing up-regulation of the surface molecules involved in maturation. ABH also had a significant impact on peptidoglycan-induced or CpG oligodeoxynucleotide-induced IL-12p40 production in DCs. The inhibition of LPS-induced responses was not associated with a cytotoxic effect of ABH nor with an anti-inflammatory effect of IL-10. However, ABH decreased NF-kappaB-induced reporter gene expression in LPS-stimulated J774.1 cells. Interestingly, DCs preincubated with ABH and then stimulated with LPS augmented T helper type 1 responses in culture with allogeneic T cells as compared to LPS-stimulated but non-ABH-pretreated DCs. These observations suggest that ABH regulates DC-mediated responses.