Objectives: The study tests the hypothesis that monocyte derived dendritic cells from HIV-1 infected individuals are normal and can restore impaired CD4 T-cell antigen specific responses. Design: Monocyte derived dendritic cells were isolated from individuals at three different stages of HIV-1 infection with a wide spectrum of viral load and CD4 T-cell counts, and from healthy volunteers. The cell surface phenotype and allogeneic stimulatory potential of these dendritic cells was documented. CD4 T-cell responses to HIV p24, tetanus toxoid and purified protein derivative were measured using either unfractionated peripheral blood mononuclear cells, or purified dendritic cell/T-cell cultures. Results: Dendritic cells from all three HIV-1 infected groups did not differ from each other or from healthy volunteers in terms of cell surface phenotype or allogeneic stimulatory potential using T cells from healthy volunteers. Dendritic cells from immunosuppressed antiretroviral naive individuals enhanced the autologous recall proliferative responses both to HIV-1 p24, and third party antigens tetanus toxoid and purified protein derivative, both in terms of the proportion of responding individuals, and median proliferation. Conclusion: Antigen presentation by dendritic cells partially restores impaired antigen specific CD4 T-cell responses associated with HIV-1 infection. Immunization strategies which target dendritic cells may therefore offer significant advantages in the ability to stimulate HIV-specific protective immune responses. © 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.