FLT3 ligand (FL) is a recently described hematopoietic growth factor that stimulates the proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic progenitors. We have investigated the effect of FL on murine hematopoiesis and dendritic cell (DC) generation and accumulation in lymphoid tissues and liver in vivo and in vitro evaluating the morphologic, phenotypic, and functional characteristics of these DC. We have observed extramedullary hematopoiesis in the mouse spleen with all lineages of hematopoietic cells represented after the administration of FL. Injection of FL results in a time-dependent and reversible accumulation of DC in the spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and liver. Both flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry revealed a significant accumulation of DC in these tissues. Results of mixed leukocyte reaction suggested that these cells, isolated from murine bone marrow or spleen, were active as antigen presenting cells. Furthermore, cultivation of splenic and marrow cells with GM-CSF and IL-4 gave rise to large numbers of functionally active mature DC. Thus, the results of this study suggest that FL is a promising growth factor that stimulates the generation of large number of DC and may be a useful cytokine for the immunotherapy of cancer.