The induction of different types of innate and adaptive immune responses, depending on the nature of the antigens and the environmental context, is crucial to cope with a variety of pathogens and concurrently to avoid pathologic reaction to self antigens. Recent studies have elucidated that the diversity of immune responses is critically controlled by dendritic cells (DCs). Two DC subsets, myeloid DCs and plasmacytoid DCs, have been identified in humans. The DC subsets recognize different microbial pathogens by expressing distinct repertoires of Toll-like receptors and induce different types of innate and adaptive immune responses, depending on the environmental factors. In particular, plasmacytoid DC precursors produce vast amounts of type I interferons in response to viruses and thus play an important role in antiviral immunity. Elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that modulate the functions of the 2 DC subsets will lead to an understanding of the pathogenesis of various immune-related diseases and to the development of novel immunologic therapies.