Dendritic cells (DCs) are being evaluated for cancer immunotherapy due to their unique ability to induce tumor-directed T-cell responses. Here we report that the type of human DC, the mode of activation, and the strategy for delivery of antigen are 3 critical factors for efficient stimulation of tumor-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. Only CD1c+ blood DCs and monocyte-derived DCs (MoDCs) were capable of presenting epitopes of the full-length tumor antigen NY-ESO-1 on both major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I (cross-presentation) and MHC II, whereas plasmacytoid DCs were limited to MHC II presentation. Cross-presentation was inefficient for soluble protein, but highly efficient for antigen-antibody immune complexes (NY-ESO-1/IC) and for protein formulated with ISCOMATRIX adjuvant (NY-ESO-1/IMX). DC activation with CD40L further enhanced cross-presentation efficiency. The mode of antigen delivery was found to be a determining factor for cytosolic proteolysis by DCs. Immune complexes (ICs) targeted a slow, proteasome-dependent cross-presentation pathway, whereas ISCOMATRIX (IMX) targeted a fast, proteasome-independent pathway. Both cross-presentation pathways resulted in a long-lived, T-cell stimulatory capacity, which was maintained for several days longer than for DCs pulsed with peptide. This may provide DCs with ample opportunities for sensitizing tumor-specific T cells against a broad array of tumor antigen epitopes in lymph nodes.