In this study, we compared soluble HLA-DR (sHLA-DR) production in the culture supernatants of various cell sources [T and B cells, monocytes and dendritic cells (DCs) either from adult peripheral blood (PB) or umbilical cord blood (UCB)]. DCs produced the highest amount of sHLA-DR molecules as compared to other cell sources, with UCB DCs producing the highest amount. Different kinetics of sHLA-DR production were found between immature and mature UCB DCs (mDC, iDC) (derived either from CD34(+) or CD14(+) cells). Maximum production of sHLA-DR was observed in 72-hour culture supernatants of both CD34- and CD14-derived mDCs, whereas it peaked in the 24-hour culture supernatants from iDC. sHLA-DR molecules were pelleted after sequential centrifugation from UCB CD34(+) DCs and were found to contain both 36 kD alpha-chain and 29 kD beta-chain of HLA-DR, CD86, and Fas molecules. These sHLA-DR containing vesicles/exosomes alone evoked weak proliferative responses from autologous and allogeneic T cells, but the immune response was significantly increased when vesicles/exosomes were presented with DCs.