Human Langerhans cell (LC) precursors populate the epidermis early during prenatal development and thereafter undergo massive proliferation. The prototypic antiproliferative cytokine TGF-β1 is required for LC differentiation from human CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells and blood monocytes in vitro. Similarly, TGF-β1 deficiency results in LC loss in vivo. However, immunohistology studies revealed that human LC niches in early prenatal epidermis and adult basal (germinal) keratinocyte layers lack detectable TGF-β1. Here we demonstrated that these LC niches express high levels of bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7) and that Bmp7-deficient mice exhibit substantially diminished LC numbers, with the remaining cells appearing less dendritic. BMP7 induces LC differentiation and proliferation by activating the BMP type-I receptor ALK3 in the absence of canonical TGF-β1-ALK5 signaling. Conversely, TGF-β1-induced in vitro LC differentiation is mediated via ALK3; however, co-induction of ALK5 diminished TGF-β1-driven LC generation. Therefore, selective ALK3 signaling by BMP7 promotes high LC yields. Within epidermis, BMP7 shows an inverse expression pattern relative to TGF-β1, the latter induced in suprabasal layers and up-regulated in outer layers. We observed that TGF-β1 inhibits microbial activation of BMP7-generated LCs. Therefore, TGF-β1 in suprabasal/outer epidermal layers might inhibit LC activation, resulting in LC network maintenance.