Antigen-dependent interactions between T lymphocytes and dendritic cells (DCs) can produce two distinct outcomes: tolerance and immunity. It is generally considered that all DC subsets are capable of supporting both tolerogenic and immunogenic responses, depending on their exposure to activating signals. Here, we tested whether epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs) can support immunogenic responses in vivo in the absence of antigen presentation by other DC subsets. CD4 T cells responding to antigen presentation by activated LCs initially proliferated but then failed to differentiate into effector/memory cells or to survive long term. The tolerogenic function of LCs was maintained after exposure to potent adjuvants and occurred despite up-regulation of the costimulatory molecules CD80, CD86, and IL-12, but was consistent with their failure to translocate the NF-κB family member RelB from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Commitment of LCs to tolerogenic function may explain why commensal microorganisms expressing Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands but confined to the skin epithelium are tolerated, whereas invading pathogens that breach the epithelial basement membrane and activate dermal DCs stimulate a strong immune response.