Human plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC) are crucial for innate and adaptive immune responses against viral infections, mainly through production of type I interferons. Evidence is accumulating that PDC surface receptors play an important role in this process. To investigate the PDC phenotype in more detail, a chip-based expression analysis of surface receptors was combined with respective flow cytometry data obtained from fresh PDC, PDC exposed to interleukin-3 (IL-3) and/or herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). CD156b, CD229, CD305 and CD319 were newly identified on the surface of PDC, and CD180 was identified as a new intracellular antigen. After correction for multiple comparisons, a total of 33 receptors were found to be significantly regulated upon exposure to IL-3, HSV-1 or IL-3 and HSV-1. These were receptors involved in chemotaxis, antigen uptake, activation and maturation, migration, apoptosis, cytotoxicity and costimulation. Infectious and ultraviolet-inactivated HSV-1 did not differentially affect surface receptor regulation, consistent with the lack of productive virus infection in PDC, which was confirmed by HSV-1 real-time polymerase chain reaction and experiments involving autofluorescing HSV-1 particles. Viral entry was mediated at least in part by endocytosis. Time–course experiments provided evidence of a co-ordinated regulation of PDC surface markers, which play a specific role in different aspects of PDC function such as attraction to inflamed tissue, antigen recognition and subsequent migration to secondary lymphatic tissue. This knowledge can be used to investigate PDC surface receptor functions in interactions with other cells of the innate and adaptive immune system, particularly natural killer cells and cytotoxic T lymphocytes.