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Dendritic cells (DC) suffer a maturation defect following interaction with erythrocytes infected with malaria parasites and become unable to induce protective malaria liver-stage immunity. Here we show that, by contrast, maturation-arrested DC in vitro are capable of the successful induction of antigen-specific gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) and interleukin 4 (IL-4) T-cell responses, antibody responses, and potent protection against lethal blood-stage malaria challenge in vivo. Similar results were found with DC pulsed with intact parasitized Plasmodium yoelii or Plasmodium chabaudi erythrocytes. Cross-strain protection was also induced. High levels of protection (80 to 100%) against lethal challenge were evident from 10 days after a single immunization and maintained up to 120 days. Interestingly, correlation studies versus blood-stage protection at different time points suggest that the immune effector mechanisms associated with protection could change over time. Antibody-independent, T-cell- and IL-12-associated protection was observed early after immunization, followed by antibody and IL-4-associated, IFN-gamma-independent protection in long-term studies. These results indicate that DC, even when clearly susceptible to parasite-induced maturation defect effects in vitro, can be central to the induction of protection against blood-stage malaria in vivo.