Dendritic cells (DC) perform an important role in the initiation of the immune response through the local secretion of inflammatory mediators within diseased tissue in response to Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligation. However, DC vaccine strategies fail to make use of this capability against cancer. To harness the TLR response capability of DC against cancer, we tested a series of recombinant genes for their ability to redirect DC function specifically against a tumor-associated antigen. Each gene encoded a cell surface chimeric protein made up of extracellular single-chain immunoglobulin anti-erbB2 linked to an intracellular TLR-signaling component composed of either myeloid differentiation factor 88, interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase-1 (IRAK-1) or the cytoplasmic domain of TLR4. Each gene was expressed in the DC line, JAWS II, to a similar degree following retroviral transduction. However, only the chimera containing IRAK-1 was able to mediate interleukin-12 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha secretion. Since TLR engagement can also activate DC and enhance their ability to stimulate T cells, we ligated the chimeric anti-erbB2-IRAK-1 receptor and determined the effect on the stimulation of T cells. We found that JAWS II cells triggered through chimeric anti-erbB2-IRAK-1 displayed an enhanced ability to stimulate ovalbumin-specific OT-II CD4(+) T cells. This first description of the generation of tumor-reactive DC may lead to the development of new cell-based vaccines that can act at both the tumor site to induce danger and at the lymph node to stimulate a specific T-cell response.