The developmental origin of dendritic cells (DCs) is controversial. In the mouse CD8alpha(+) and CD8alpha(-) DC subsets are often considered to be of lymphoid and myeloid origin respectively, although evidence on this point is conflicting. Very recently a novel CD11c(+) B220(+) DC subset has been identified that appears to be the murine counterpart to interferon alpha (IFNalpha)-producing human plasmacytoid DCs (PDCs). We show here that CD11c(+) B220(+) mouse PDCs, like human PDCs, are present in the thymus and express T lineage markers such as CD8alpha and CD4. However, the intrathymic development of PDCs can be completely dissociated from immature T lineage cells in mixed chimeras established with bone marrow cells from mice deficient for either Notch-1 or T-cell factor 1, two independent mutations that severely block early T-cell development. Our data indicate that thymic PDCs do not arise from a bipotential T/DC precursor.