Langerhans dendritic cells are antigen presenting cells (APC) that reside within the epidermis and are capable of stimulating naive T cells. Reciprocally, lymphocytes may play a role in Langerhans cells (LC) differentiation. Our results show that the differentiation of skin LC is unaffected in the absence of lymphocytes and/or signaling through the common cytokine receptor gamma chain (gammac) required for IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, IL-15 and IL-21 signaling. Migration of LC and other dendritic cells (DC) from the skin to the draining lymph nodes (LNs) after FITC skin sensitization, is unaffected in the absence of lymphocytes or CD40. FITC+ LC/DC sorted from the LNs of lymphoid deficient or control mice stimulated naive T cells with similar efficiency. However, while the absence of lymphocytes did not appear to affect the phenotype or number of emigrating LN DC/LC, their persistence in the LN appears to depend on alphabeta T cells. Thus, DC are strikingly reduced in numbers in the peripheral LNs of T-cell deficient mice. Finally, CD8alpha expression on skin emigrants was low and dependent on the presence of CD8+ lymphocytes, while spleen CD8+ DC were present in the absence of lymphocytes. We conclude that the presence of T cells is not required for the differentiation and migration of resident skin DC but is critical for the maintenance of DC and LC migrating into the LNs.