We have postulated that the donor leukocyte microchimerism plays a seminal role in the acceptance of allografts by inducing and perpetuating variable degree of donor-specific nonreactivity in long-surviving organ recipients. Limited information is available, however, concerning the phenotype and function of these chimeric cells in humans. The unequivocal presence of donor dendritic cells (DCs), a prominent lineage in the microchimerism observed in rodents and clinical organ recipients, was difficult to demonstrate in bone marrow (BM)-augmented organ transplant recipients. This enigma was resolved by the recent description of a method for propagating circulating human DCs from their progenitors by culture in a medium enriched with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin 4, a condition known to inhibit outgrowth of monocytes, thus providing a selective growth advantage to committed progenitors of the myeloid lineage. Cells from BM-augmented organ recipients and normal control subjects harvested from 12- to 14-day cultures exhibited dendritic morphology and potent allostimulatory capacity. Using appropriate primers, the presence of donor DNA was verified by polymerase chain reaction within the lineage(null)/class II(bright) sorted DC. Phenotypic analysis of cultured DCs from BM-augmented patients, unlike that of controls, exhibited a marked down-regulation of B7-1 (CD80) while retaining normal levels of expression of B7-2 (CD86) cell surface molecules. The presence of donor DNA was also confirmed by polymerase chain reaction in individually sorted lineage+ (T, B, and NK) cells and macrophages, suggesting that the chimerism in BM-augmented patients is multilineage. The presence of progenitors of donor DCs in the peripheral blood of BM-augmented patients further substantiates the already convincing evidence of stem cell engraftment.