The dendritic cell (DC) lineage is remarkably heterogeneous. It has been postulated that specialized DC subsets have evolved in order to select and support the multitude of possible T cell differentiation pathways. However, defining the function of individual DC subsets has proven remarkably difficult, and DC subset control of key T cell fates such as tolerance, T helper cell commitment and regulatory T cell induction is still not well understood. While the difficulty in assigning unique functions to particular DC subsets may be due to sharing of functions, it may also reflect a lack of appropriate physiological in-vivo models for studying DC function. In this paper we review the limitations associated with many of the current DC models and highlight some of the underlying difficulties involved in studying the function of murine DC subsets.