Dendritic cells (DCs) play a critical role in orchestrating the innate and adaptive components of the immune system so that appropriate, coordinated responses are mounted against infectious agents. Tissue-resident DCs interact with microbes through germline-encoded pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs), which recognize molecular patterns expressed by various microorganisms. Antigens use PRR activation to instruct DCs for the appropriate priming of natural killer (NK) cells, followed by specific T-cell responses. Due to the central role of DCs in regulating the activation and progression of immune responses, minor imbalances in the feedback control of Toll-like receptor (TLR)-activated cells have been associated with autoimmunity in genetically prone individuals. We review here recent findings on the role of DCs in the priming of innate and adaptive immune responses and the possible involvement of DCs in inducing and maintaining autoimmune reactions.