Dendritic cells (DC) are professional antigen-presenting cells that are used in vaccine approaches to cancer. Classically, mature monocyte-derived DC are generated in vitro in the presence of interleukin (IL)-4, granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor, and inflammatory cytokines (G4-DC). Recently, it has been described that DC can also be generated in the presence of IL-3 and interferon (IFN)-beta and that these DC are efficiently matured using polyriboinosinic polyribocytidylic acid (I3-DC). In this study, a series of in vitro experiments was performed to compare side-by-side I3-DC and G4-DC as vaccine adjuvants. Phenotypic characterization of the DC revealed differences in the expression of the monocyte marker CD14 and the maturation marker CD83. Low expression of CD14 and high expression of CD83 characterized G4-DC, whereas I3-DC displayed intermediate expression of CD14 and CD83. Both types of DC were as potent in the induction of allogeneic T cell proliferation. Upon CD40 ligation, G4-DC produced lower amounts of IFN-alpha and pulmonary and activation-regulated chemokine, similar amounts of IL-6, macrophage-inflammatory protein (MIP)-1alpha, and MIP-1beta, and higher amounts of IL-12 p70, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and MIP-3beta than I3-DC. We further evaluated whether the DC could be frozen/thawed without loss of cell number, viability, phenotype, and function. After freezing/thawing, 56.0% +/- 9.0% of I3-DC and 77.0% +/- 3.0% of G4-DC (n=9) were recovered as viable cells, displaying the same phenotype as their fresh counterparts. Finally, in vitro stimulations showed that fresh and frozen peptide-loaded I3-DC are more potent inducers of Melan-A-specific CD8(+) T cell responses than G4-DC. The antigen-specific T cells were functional as shown in cytotoxicity and IFN-gamma secretion assay.