Summary. Dendritic cells (DCs) are essential for initiating T-cell responses against either host- or leukaemia-specific antigens. We analysed phenotype, allostimulatory capacity and chimaerism of monocyte-derived DCs (moDCs) serially in 28 patients receiving allogeneic stem cell grafts after conventional myeloablative (n = 14) or reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC, n = 14). Although the recovery of phenotype and function of moDCs after myeloablative stem cell transplantation (SCT) was prompt, there was a trend to a lower expression of co-stimulatory molecules and major histocompatibility antigen class II antigens on mature moDCs in patients who had received RIC transplants. Similarly, the allostimulatory capacity of mature moDCs after RIC transplants was reduced for up to 6 months. Six out of 14 (43%) RIC transplant patients showed a pattern of mixed chimaerism within the first 3 months after transplant. RIC transplant patients with a mixed donor DC chimaerism had a significantly higher risk of relapse (75% versus 35% for patients with full donor DC chimaerism, P = 0·03) but a lower incidence of acute graft-versus-host disease (25% versus 56% for patients with full donor DC chimaerism, P = 0·157). These data, although preliminary, provide evidence that DC function is impaired after RIC transplants and that DC chimaerism may have an impact on graft-versus-host and graft-versus-leukaemia reactions.