Multiple sclerosis (MS) is assumed to result from autoaggressive T cell-mediated immune responses, in which T helper type 1 (Th1) cells producing cytokines, e.g. IFN-γ and lymphotoxin promote damage of oligodendrocyte-myelin units. Dendritic cells (DCs) as potent antigen presenting cells initiate and orchestrate immune responses. Whether phenotype and function of DCs with respect to Th1 cell promotion are altered in MS, are not known. This study revealed that blood-derived DCs from MS patients expressed low levels of the costimulatory molecule CD86. In addition, production of IFN-γ by blood mononuclear cells (MNCs) was strongly enhanced by DCs derived from MS patients. IFN-β and IL-10 inhibited the costimulatory capacity of DCs in mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) and showed additive effects on suppression of IL-12 production by DCs. Correspondingly, DCs pretreated with IFN-β and IL-10 significantly suppressed IFN-γ production by MNCs. IFN-β in vitro also upregulated CD80 and, in particular, CD86 expression on DCs. In vitro, anti-CD80 antibody remarkably increased, while anti-CD86 antibody inhibited DC-induced IL-4 production in MLR. We conclude that DC phenotype and function are altered in MS, implying Th1-biased responses with enhanced capacity to induce Th1 cytokine production. In vitro modification of MS patients' DCs by IFN-β and IL-10 could represent a novel way of immunomodulation and of possible usefulness for future immunotherapy of MS.