The relationship of dendritic cells (DC) isolated from the peripheral blood to those of lymphoid tissue is, in terms of maturation and function, incompletely understood. In our present study, we have explored the molecular basis of adhesion of T cells to blood DC. Analysis of the expression of adhesion receptors on the cell surface of blood DC revealed that these cells express lymphocyte function-associated antigen (LFA)-1 (CD11a/18), ICAM-1 (CD54), LFA-3 (CD58) and CD44, but are very late antigen (VLA)-4 (CD49d) and vascular cell-adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 negative. The LFA-1 pathway was found to play a key role in T cells-blood DC adhesion; monoclonal antibodies (mAb) against both LFA-1 and ICAM-1 strongly inhibited adhesion between those cells. Moreover, a T cell clone from an LFA-1-deficient patient showed poor binding to blood DC. The important role of LFA-1 in T cell-blood DC adhesion was also supported by the metabolic energy and divalent cation dependence of the interaction. mAb against LFA-3 and CD2 did not inhibit T cell-blood DC binding. In contrast to the strong inhibition by antibodies to LFA-1 and ICAM-1, antibodies to CD44 enhanced conjugate formation between T cells and blood DC. Together, our results show that the LFA-1/ICAM-1 pathway plays a central role in T cell-blood DC adhesion, a situation like that in T cell adhesion to lymphoid DC. However, unlike lymphoid DC, blood DC do not express VCAM-1 nor use LFA-3 for T cell binding.