Treatment with ionizing radiation (IR) can lead to the accumulation of tumor-infiltrating regulatory T cells (Treg cells) and subsequent resistance of tumors to radiotherapy. Here we focused on the contribution of the epidermal mononuclear phagocytes Langerhans cells (LCs) to this phenomenon because of their ability to resist depletion by high-dose IR. We found that LCs resisted apoptosis and rapidly repaired DNA damage after exposure to IR. In particular, we found that the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor CDKN1A (p21) was overexpressed in LCs and that Cdkn1a(-/-) LCs underwent apoptosis and accumulated DNA damage following IR treatment. Wild-type LCs upregulated major histocompatibility complex class II molecules, migrated to the draining lymph nodes and induced an increase in Treg cell numbers upon exposure to IR, but Cdkn1a(-/-) LCs did not. Our findings suggest a means for manipulating the resistance of LCs to IR to enhance the response of cutaneous tumors to radiotherapy.