Dendritic cells, a minor cell population in lymphoid tissues, are specialized for presentation of antigenic peptides to T lymphocytes. Thymic dendritic cells are involved in the deletion of self-reactive T lymphocytes. Although all dendritic cells are ultimately of bone-marrow origin, it has not been clear whether thymic dendritic cells are produced in the adult thymus from a precursor cell or whether they migrate there preformed from the periphery. Recently we isolated from adult mouse thymus a population of early T precursors that could still form B lymphocytes, but not erythroid or myeloid cells, when transferred intravenously. Here we show that these thymic lymphoid precursor cells, as well as bone-marrow haematopoietic stem cells, are able to form both dendritic cells and T-cell progeny when transferred into an irradiated thymus. Such linked development may ensure that developing T cells are negatively selected predominantly by self antigens presented on newly formed thymic dendritic cells.