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Latently infected resting CD4(+) T cells are a major barrier to HIV cure. Understanding how latency is established, maintained and reversed is critical to identifying novel strategies to eliminate latently infected cells. We demonstrate here that co-culture of resting CD4(+) T cells and syngeneic myeloid dendritic cells (mDC) can dramatically increase the frequency of HIV DNA integration and latent HIV infection in non-proliferating memory, but not naive, CD4(+) T cells. Latency was eliminated when cell-to-cell contact was prevented in the mDC-T cell co-cultures and reduced when clustering was minimised in the mDC-T cell co-cultures. Supernatants from infected mDC-T cell co-cultures did not facilitate the establishment of latency, consistent with cell-cell contact and not a soluble factor being critical for mediating latent infection of resting CD4(+) T cells. Gene expression in non-proliferating CD4(+) T cells, enriched for latent infection, showed significant changes in the expression of genes involved in cellular activation and interferon regulated pathways, including the down-regulation of genes controlling both NF-kappaB and cell cycle. We conclude that mDC play a key role in the establishment of HIV latency in resting memory CD4(+) T cells, which is predominantly mediated through signalling during DC-T cell contact.