Three classes of Fc receptors for IgG, Fc gamma RI (CD64), Fc gamma RII (CD32), and Fc gamma RIII (CD16), are expressed on blood leukocytes. Although Fc gamma R are important phagocytic receptors on phagocytes, most reports suggest that dendritic cells lack Fc gamma R-mediated phagocytosis and express significant levels of only CD32. We now report that phagocytically active forms of both CD64 and CD32 are expressed significantly on at least one subset of human blood dendritic cells. Countercurrent elutriation and magnetic bead selection were used to rapidly enrich subsets of blood dendritic cells (CD33brightCD14-HLA-DRbrightCD83-) and monocytes (CD33brightCD14brightHLA-DRdimCD83-). Upon culture for 2 days, dendritic cells became CD83-positive and markedly increased HLA-DR expression, whereas monocytes did not express CD83 and exhibited reduced levels of HLA-DR. Constitutive CD64 expression was identified on this circulating dendritic cell population, but at a lower level than on monocytes. CD64 expression by dendritic cells and monocytes did not decrease during 2 days in culture, and was up-regulated on both cell types following incubation with IFN-gamma. Freshly isolated blood dendritic cells performed CD64- and CD32-mediated phagocytosis, although at a lower level than monocytes. Dendritic cells generated by culture of adherent mononuclear cells in granulocyte-macrophage CSF and IL-4 also up-regulated CD64 following IFN-gamma stimulation, and mediated CD64-dependent phagocytosis. These results indicate that both CD64 and CD32 expressed on blood dendritic cells may play a role in uptake of foreign particles and macromolecules through a phagocytic mechanism before trafficking to T cell-reactive areas.