The expression of the chemokine receptor XCR1 and the function of its ligand XCL1 (otherwise referred to as ATAC, lymphotactin, or SCM-1) remained elusive to date. In the present report we demonstrated that XCR1 is exclusively expressed on murine CD8(+) dendritic cells (DCs) and showed that XCL1 is a potent and highly specific chemoattractant for this DC subset. CD8(+) T cells abundantly secreted XCL1 8-36 hr after antigen recognition on CD8(+) DCs in vivo, in a period in which stable T cell-DC interactions are known to occur. Functionally, XCL1 increased the pool of antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells and their capacity to secrete IFN-gamma. Absence of XCL1 impaired the development of cytotoxicity to antigens cross-presented by CD8(+) DCs. The XCL1-XCR1 axis thus emerges as an integral component in the development of efficient cytotoxic immunity in vivo.