Dendritic cells (DC) initiate tumor specific immune responses in animal studies and initial human trials suggest that certain tumor-antigen loaded DC preparations generate clinical responses. DC may be obtained from blood or generated in vitro from precursor cells. In vitro generation of DC from precursor cells, under the influence of cytokines, has been favoured to date as a source because of the greater numbers of DC produced. However, the different cytokine combinations and serum or plasma component(s) used, differentiate precursor cells into DC with different physiological properties and ultimate immunogenicity. Thus, the quality of in vitro cytokine derived DC may have a profound influence on clinical outcomes. The administration of certain growth factors, which increase the number of circulating blood DC, may provide an alternative source of DC for use in clinical trials. Although clinical trials in prostate cancer, melanoma and metastatic renal carcinoma patients are encouraging, some data suggest certain DC preparations and administration protocols are sub optimal, even potentially tumor enhancing. As basic scientific studies establish how to provide DC with stable phenotype, resistance to tumour inhibitory factors and high migratory capacity, the technology for producing cytokine derived DC in vitro using Good Manufacturing Practise (GMP) conditions needs to be developed. Future DC vaccination protocols will require careful control of the DC used for tumor-antigen loading and repetitive long term DC vaccination may be necessary to maintain effective anti-tumor immune responses.