Treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection with potent antiretroviral medications has provided considerable clinical benefit. However because of the limitations of current therapy, innovative approaches are needed to better control HIV-1 infection. Several studies have suggested that robust CD4+ T helper and CD8+ T cell responses may contribute to the immunologic control of HIV-1 infection in certain individuals. Most chronically infected patients, however, cannot control the infection and may benefit from stimulation of cellular immunity with immunotherapy. Dendritic cells (DCs) are potent professional antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and have a central role in directing the adaptive immune response to pathogens. The ability of DCs to stimulate naive T cells has long been thought to be crucial in initiating an effective immune response. As DCs are uniquely situated at the interface between the innate and adaptive immune systems, they are currently under intense scrutiny as potential adjuvants for vaccines in many clinical settings. Studies in healthy volunteers and patients with cancer have shown that antigen-pulsed DCs can boost both CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses in vivo. Based on these promising findings, ex vivo antigen-pulsed DCs are being actively investigated in studies aimed at developing a therapeutic vaccine for individuals with HIV-1 infection.