Type I interferons (IFNs) are pleiotropic cytokines, initially described for their antiviral activity. These cytokines exhibit a long record of clinical use in patients with some types of cancer, viral infections and chronic inflammatory diseases. It is now well established that IFN action mostly relies on their ability to modulate host innate and adaptive immune responses. Work in recent years has begun to elucidate the mechanisms by which type I IFNs modify the immune response, and this is now recognized to be due to effects on multiple cell types, including monocytes, dendritic cells (DCs), NK cells, T and B lymphocytes. An ensemble of results from both animal models and in vitro studies emphasized the key role of type I IFNs in the development and function of DCs, suggesting the existence of a natural alliance between these cytokines and DCs in linking innate to adaptive immunity. The identification of IFN signatures in DCs and their dysregulation under pathological conditions will therefore be pivotal to decipher the complexity of this DC-IFN interaction and to better exploit the therapeutic potential of these cells.