Dendritic cells (DC) are potent inducers of acquired immunity due to their ability to present antigens in the context of a costimulatory environment and consequently serve an essential role in vaccine efficacy. Strategies to enhance their function, such as granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and IL-4 treatment to induce DC differentiation from peripheral blood monocytes, may therefore be useful as vaccine adjuvants. We now have evaluated the effect of recombinant GM-CSF on the differentiation of DC in swine. GM-CSF mRNA was readily detected in porcine splenocytes, with increased levels following treatment of the cells with ConA and LPS. Porcine GM-CSF was cloned and expressed in the methylotrophic yeast, Pichia pastoris, as a glycosylated protein that induced proliferation of porcine bone marrow cells. P. pastoris-derived GM-CSF induced expression of antigen presenting (MHC class II) and costimulatory (CD80-CD86) molecules and enhanced antigen presenting cell (APC) function consistent with the induction of functional DC. Thus, recombinant GM-CSF produced by P. pastoris may be a potent adjuvant for swine vaccines.