The potent accessory properties of dendritic cells (DC) develop sequentially during a process termed "maturation." Splenic DC undergo functional maturation in vivo in response to the bacterial product LPS and migrate from the marginal zone to the T cell areas. The redistribution of fully mature DC, which present Ags encountered in the periphery, in the T cell area is likely to result in T cell priming. Unexpectedly, we found that DC rapidly die by apoptosis once they have entered the T cell zone. Injection of OVA peptide in OVA-specific, TCR-transgenic mice strongly delays the LPS-induced apoptosis of DC in situ. We conclude that mature DC are programmed to die unless they receive a survival signal from T cells and that the regulation of DC survival may be a mechanism aimed at controlling the initiation and the termination of the immune response.