Dendritic cells (DCs) currently used for vaccination in clinical studies to induce immunity against malignant cells are normally generated from peripheral blood-derived monocytes. Here we studied conditions for the generation of DCs from unseparated human bone marrow (BM) mononuclear cells and compared them functionally with DCs from blood. The two types of DCs, from bone marrow (BM-DC) and peripheral blood (BL-DC), were generated in parallel from the same normal healthy donors by culturing in serum-free X-VIVO 20 medium containing GM-CSF and IL-4, and then the phenotypes and functions were compared. BM-DC generation occurred in 14 days and involved proliferative expansion from CD34 stem cells and differentiation while BL-DC generation occurred in 7 days from CD14 monocytes and involved only differentiation. A 7- to 25-fold higher number of DCs could be obtained from BM than from blood. BM-DC had similar phenotypes as BL-DC. The capacity to stimulate MLR reactivity in allogeneic T lymphocytes was higher with BM-DC than that with BL-DC. Also, the capacity to stimulate autologous memory T cell responses to tetanus toxoid (TT) or tuberculin (PPD) was higher with BM-DC than with BL-DC. These results suggest that BM-DC as produced here may be a very economic and useful source of professional antigen-presenting cells for anti-tumor immunotherapeutic protocols.