There is increasing interest in dendritic cells (DC) that are capable of initiating antitumor immune responses. An in vitro cell differentiation method has recently been developed that uses GM-CSF and IL-4 to generate human DC from adherent blood mononuclear cells cultured on tissue culture plastic. These cells are competent for antigen uptake but express relatively low levels of co-stimulatory molecules and thus correspond to immature resident tissue DC. We have adapted this method to consider some variables that are pertinent to clinical use, including a large scale differentiation of functional DC in a culture system suitable for clinical use. We report here that sizable numbers of monocytes purified by elutriation from blood leukocytes and cultured in Teflon bags develop with high efficiency into typical DC, as defined by morphology and membrane phenotype. When compared with usual adherent DC, cells generated under our adherent-free conditions exhibited lower CD1a expression and antigen capture capacity, but maintained the ability to present soluble antigens to T cells. They neoexpressed a high level of the co-stimulator molecule B7-2 (CD86) and was potent accessory cells for T cell proliferation, but they lacked the CD83 marker of DC full maturation. This study may constitute a prerequisite step for clinical investigations in tumor immunotherapy.