Dendritic cells (DCs) are critical in priming adaptive T-cell responses, but the effects of ageing on interactions between DCs and T cells are unclear. This study investigated the influence of ageing on the maturation of and cytokine production by human blood-enriched DCs, and the impact on T cell responses in an allogeneic mixed leucocyte reaction (MLR). DCs from old subjects (65-75 y) produced significantly less TNF-α and IFN-γ than young subjects (20-30 y) in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), but expression of maturation markers and co-stimulatory molecules was preserved. In the MLR, DCs from older subjects induced significantly restricted proliferation of young T cells, activation of CD8+ T cells and expression of IL-12 and IFN-γ in T cells compared with young DCs. T cells from older subjects responded more weakly to DC stimulation compared with young T cells, regardless of whether the DCs were derived from young or older subjects. In conclusion, the capacity of DCs to induce T cell activation is significantly impaired by ageing.