A long-term culture (LTC) system has been established that supports the continuous production of dendritic cells (DC) from haemopoietic cells present in the culture. The production of cells depends on the presence of an intact stromal cell layer containing a mixture of fibroblasts and endothelial cells. Cells are shed from foci of dividing cells in contact with the stromal cell matrix. They resemble DC in terms of morphology and cell surface marker expression. The LTC can be derived from different lymphoid tissues, but most success has been achieved with murine spleen. Different LTC vary in capacity to produce immunostimulatory DC. Some LTC produce DC that are very effective APC and can stimulate both mixed lymphocyte and antigen-specific T cell responses. The DC produced in others are weak APC. Different LTC appear to produce DC reflecting different stages of maturation or development, reflected by different phenotypic and functional characteristics. The production of cells within LTC occurs independently of added cytokines and is dependent on maintenance of the stromal cell layer and the presence of a subset of smaller progenitor cells. Long-term cultures remain a valuable source of cells for study of DC development and function.