We describe a new B220+ subpopulation of immaturelike dendritic cells (B220+ DCs) with low levels of expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and costimulatory molecules and markedly reduced T-cell stimulatory potential, located in the thymus, bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes. B220+ DCs display ultrastructural characteristics resembling those of human plasmacytoid cells and accordingly produce interferon-alpha after virus stimulation. B220+ DCs acquired a strong antigen-presenting cell capacity on incubation with CpG oligodeoxynucleotides, concomitant with a remarkable up-regulation of MHC and costimulatory molecules and the production of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and IL-10. Importantly, our data suggest that nonstimulated B220+ DCs represent a subset of physiological tolerogenic DCs endowed with the capacity to induce a nonanergic state of T-cell unresponsiveness, involving the differentiation of T regulatory cells capable of suppressing antigen-specific T-cell proliferation. In conclusion, our data support the hypothesis that B220+ DCs represent a lymphoid organ subset of immature DCs with a dual role in the immune system-exerting a tolerogenic function in steady state but differentiating on microbial stimulation into potent antigen-presenting cells with type 1 interferon production capacity.