The impact of bensoporphyrin derivative monoacid ring A, and visible light was determined for mouse splenic dendritic cells (DC), potent antigen-presenting cells (APC) of the immune system. It was discovered that sub-lethal doses of BPD-MA and light significantly altered the surface receptor pattern of DC as well as diminishing the capacity of these cells to activate allogeneic T cells. Treatment of highly purified DC with BPD-MA and 690 nm wavelength light decreased DC expression of major histocompatibility (MHC) Class I and II antigens, leukocyte common antigen CD45, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1, CD54), the co- stimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86, CD95 as well as integrin CD11c. In contrast, DC expression of leukocyte function-associated-1 (LFA-1, CD11a), CD11b, CD18, CD40, and the DC DEC-205 receptor increased after the treatment. Changes in receptor levels occurred rapidly. DC MHC Class I and ICAM-1 expression declined to 40 percent of control levels by 2 hours post-PDT. DC treated with BPD-MA and light were poor stimulators of allogeneic T cells in the mixed leukocyte reaction. BPD-MA, in the absence of light, had no effect on the immunostimulatory properties of these cells. The changes in DC receptor expression pattern produced by BPD-MA and light were comparable to those produced by ultraviolet B light, a treatment known to alter the immunostimulatory characteristics of DC. Photodynamic therapy with BPD-MA represents an innovative approach for the modification of immune reactivity.