Dendritic cells, in contrast to B lymphocytes, must be able to efficiently internalize a diverse array of antigens for processing and loading onto major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules. Here we characterize the mannose receptor pathway in dendritic cells and show that mannose receptor-mediated uptake of antigens results in a approximately 100-fold more efficient presentation to T cells, as compared to antigens internalized via fluid phase. Immunocytochemistry as well as subcellular fractionation revealed the localization of the mannose receptor and MHC class II molecules in distinct subcellular compartments. The mannose receptor thus functions in rapid internalization and concentration of a variety of glycosylated antigens that become available for processing and presentation. This may contribute to the unique capacity of dendritic cells to generate primary T cell responses against infectious agents.