Abstract Chemotaxis, cell migration directed by spatial concentration gradients of chemoattractant molecules, is critical for proper function of the immune system. Materials capable of generating defined chemoattractant gradients via controlled release may be useful for the design of improved vaccines and immunotherapies that draw specific cells to an immunization site. To this end, we encapsulated formyl-Nle-Leu-Phe-Nle-Tyr-Lys (fN’LFN’YK) peptides or macrophage inflammatory protein-3 α (MIP-3 α or CCL20) in degradable poly(lactide-co-glycolide) microspheres that provided sustained release for more than 2 weeks in vitro. fN’LFN’YK and MIP-3 α chemoattract dendritic cells (DCs), the key antigen-presenting cells involved in generation of primary immune responses, and their precursors, monocytes. Using an in vitro videomicroscopy migration assay, we detected strong chemotaxis of human monocytes and monocyte-derived DCs through 3D collagen gels toward microspheres releasing fN’LFN’YK. Similarly, microparticles releasing MIP-3 α were able to attract mouse bone marrow-derived dendritic cells. Strikingly, prolonged attraction of DCs from distances up to 500 μm from the source to the point of contact with individual microspheres was observed. Such microspheres could be of general interest for the design of vaccines that promote adaptive immunity and as a platform for studying the biology of chemotaxis in vitro and in vivo.