Acute inflammation and the innate immune response to tissue trauma mark a critical pathophysiological challenge within the clinical course of severely injured and critically ill patients. Among the most potent cellular components of the innate host defense system are dendritic cells (DC). This highly effective network of antigen-presenting cells (APC) carries the ability to initiate and amplify diverse immune responses in respect of an appropriate activation signal. Upon activation, DCs direct the immune response towards developing either a Th1 or Th2 response, thus determining the outcome of the inflammatory or infectious stimulus. Advances in the understanding of DC immunobiology have provided new concepts in the treatment of various inflammatory diseases. With gene therapy constantly evolving new methods of celltargeted manipulation of gene expression, DCs have proven to be an exciting new tool in functionally modulating the immune response. In this review we summarize the pivotal functions of DCs and highlight their promising potency of representing an effective immunotherapeutic tool in the treatment of acute inflammation.