In the prevailing model of HIV-1 trans-infection, dendritic cells (DCs) capture and internalize intact virions and transfer these virions to interacting T cells at the virological synapse. Here, we show that HIV-1 virions transmitted in trans from in vitro derived DCs to T cells principally originate from the surface of DCs. Selective neutralization of surface-bound virions abrogated trans-infection by monocyte-derived DCs and CD34-derived Langerhans cells. Under conditions mimicking antigen recognition by the interacting T cells, most transferred virions still derived from the cell surface, although a few were transferred from an internal compartment. Our findings suggest that attachment inhibitors could neutralize trans-infection of T cells by DCs in vivo.