In various immunopathologic conditions, bacterial flora induce an immune response which results in inflammatory manifestations, e.g. periapical granuloma. Dendritic cells provide the main orchestration of specific immune responses. The aim of our study was to test the capacity of distinct oral bacterial antigens (prepared from Streptococcus mitis, Propionibacterium acnes, and Bacteroides spp.) to prime human dendritic cells for stimulation of the T-lymphocyte response. To assess the T-lymphocyte response, the expression of CD25, CD69, intracellular interferon gamma (cIFN-gamma), and intracellular interleukin 4 (cIL-4) was determined. Dendritic cells were prepared from leukocyte buffy coat from healthy blood donors. Monocytes were stimulated with IL-4 and GM-CSF and dendritic cells activated with bacterial lysates. Cell suspensions contained up to 90% dendritic cells, which represented 2-12% of the initial number of mononuclear cells. Lymphocyte subsets that developed in lymphocyte cultures after 1 week of stimulation were analyzed by flow cytometry. Dendritic cells, primed with antigens of Bacteroides fragilis have shown significantly higher activation and expression of intercellular IFN-gamma by T lymphocytes compared to negative controls. The dendritic cells primed with antigens of P. acnes had no effect on T-lymphocyte activation or cytokine production; instead they induced differentiation of T lymphocytes into CD25bright cells (regulatory T cells) with a potentially inhibitory effect on immune response. Dendritic cells primed with antigens of S. mitis induced increased expression of cIL-4. We conclude that commensal oral bacteria antigens prepared from B. fragilis, S. mitis, and P. acnes prime human dendritic cells to induce Th1, Th2, and T(reg) differentiation, respectively. This may advance our understanding of immunopathologic manifestations in the oral cavity and offer new possibilities for redirecting immune responses in mucosal vaccination.