The incidence of allergy is steadily increasing, but the molecular mechanisms involved in the allergic immune response are still not fully understood. In particular, further investigations focusing on dendritic cells, which are central in orchestrating the immune response, are needed. The objective of this study was to investigate the ability of myeloid leukaemia-derived cell lines, such as KG-1, THP-1 and MUTZ-3, to serve as in vitro models for dendritic cells. The ability of these cell lines to mature into functional dendritic cells, expressing costimulatory molecules, was assessed by functional and transcriptional profiling and compared with that of monocyte-derived dendritic cells, which are now used as a standard source of dendritic cells. High-density microarray analysis was utilized to study the transcriptional activity and kinetics of activation of the differentiated MUTZ-3 cell line, in response to a cocktail of inflammatory cytokines. The data obtained clearly demonstrate that MUTZ-3 cells have the ability to induce antigen-independent proliferation in CD4+CD45RA+ T cells, whereas KG-1 and THP-1 only induced a marginal response. Furthermore, MUTZ-3 displayed the phenotypic and transcriptional profiles of immature dendritic cells, after differentiation with granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin-4. Upon activation with inflammatory cytokines, MUTZ-3 matured phenotypically and exhibited a gene induction similar to that of monocyte-derived dendritic cells. This delineation of the cellular and transcriptional activity of MUTZ-3, in response to maturational stimuli, demonstrates the significance of this cell line as a model for functional studies of inflammatory responses.