Dendritic cells (DC) are potent antigen-presenting cells and central to the induction of immune responses following infection or vaccination. The collection of DC migrating from peripheral tissues by cannulation of the afferent lymphatic vessels provides DC which can be used directly ex vivo without extensive in vitro manipulations. We have previously used bovine migrating DC to show that recombinant human adenovirus 5 vectors efficiently transduce afferent lymph migrating DEC-205(+) CD11c(+) CD8(-) DC (ALDC). We have also shown that recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) infects ALDC in vitro, causing downregulation of costimulatory molecules, apoptosis, and cell death. We now show that in the bovine system, modified vaccinia virus Ankara-induced apoptosis in DC draining from the skin occurs soon after virus binding via the caspase 8 pathway and is not associated with viral gene expression. We also show that after virus entry, the caspase 9 pathway cascade is initiated. The magnitude of T cell responses to mycobacterial antigen 85A (Ag85A) expressed by recombinant MVA-infected ALDC is increased by blocking caspase-induced apoptosis. Apoptotic bodies generated by recombinant MVA (rMVA)-Ag85A-infected ALDC and containing Ag85A were phagocytosed by noninfected migrating ALDC expressing SIRPalpha via actin-dependent phagocytosis, and these ALDC in turn presented antigen. However, the addition of fresh ALDC to MVA-infected cultures did not improve on the magnitude of the T cell responses; in contrast, these noninfected DC showed downregulation of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II), CD40, CD80, and CD86. We also observed that MVA-infected ALDC promoted migration of DEC-205(+) SIRPalpha(+) CD21(+) DC as well as CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells independently of caspase activation. These in vitro studies show that induction of apoptosis in DC by MVA vectors is detrimental to the subsequent induction of T cell responses.