Whereas dendritic cells (DC) and Langerhans cells (LC) isolated from organs of adult individuals express surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigens, DC lines generated from fetal murine skin, while capable of activating naive, allogeneic CD8+ T cells in a MHC class I-restricted fashion, do not exhibit anti-MHC class II surface reactivity and fail to stimulate the proliferation of naive, allogeneic CD4+ T cells. To test whether the CD45+ MHC class I+ CD80+ DC line 80/1 expresses incompetent, or fails to transcribe, MHC class II molecules, we performed biochemical and molecular studies using Western blot and polymerase chain reaction analysis. We found that 80/1 DC express MHC class II molecules neither at the protein nor at the transcriptional level. Ultrastructural examination of these cells revealed the presence of a LC-like morphology with indented nuclei, active cytoplasm, intermediate filaments and dendritic processes. In contrast to adult LC, no LC-specific cytoplasmic organelles (Birbeck granules) were present. Functionally, 80/1 DC in the presence, but not in the absence, of concanavalin A and anti-T-cell receptor monoclonal antibodies stimulated a vigorous proliferative response of naive CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, we found that the anti-CD3-induced stimulation of naive CD4+ and CD8+ T cells was critically dependent on the expression of FcγR on 80/1 DC and that the requirement for co-stimulation depends on the intensity of T-cell receptor signalling.