Phagocytosis of apoptotic cells (ACs) is usually a potent immunoregulatory signal but can also promote inflammation. In this article, we show that administration of apoptotic dendritic cells (DCs) inhibited inflammation in vivo through increasing production of TGF-β from intrinsic DCs and B cells. However, ACs derived from LPS-activated DCs failed to restrain inflammation because of a short-lived but marked IL-6 response, which abolished the increase in TGF-β. Inhibition of IL-6 restored the protective anti-inflammatory properties of aACs and the TGF-β response. DCs isolated from mice that had received resting but not activated ACs could transfer the suppression of inflammation to recipient mice. These transferred DCs stimulated B cell TGF-β production and relied on an intact B cell compartment to limit inflammation. These results highlight how the activation state of AC governs their ability to control inflammation through reciprocal regulation of IL-6 and TGF-β.