Although dendritic cells (DCs) regulate immune responses, they exhibit functional heterogeneity depending on their anatomical location. We examined the functional properties of intestinal DCs after oral administration of cholera toxin (CT), the most potent mucosal adjuvant. Two CD11c+ DC subsets were identified both in Peyer's patches and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) based on the expression of CD8alpha (CD8+ and CD8- DCs, respectively). A third subset of CD11c+CD8int was found exclusively in MLN. Feeding mice with CT induced a rapid and transient mobilization of a new CD11c+CD8- DC subset near the intestinal epithelium. This recruitment was associated with an increased production of the chemokine CCL20 in the small intestine and was followed by a massive accumulation of CD8int DCs in MLN. MLN DCs from CT-treated mice were more potent activators of naive T cells than DCs from control mice and induced a Th2 response. This increase in immunostimulating properties was accounted for by CD8int and CD8- DCs, whereas CD8+ DCs remained insensitive to CT treatment. Consistently, the CD8int and CD8- subsets expressed higher levels of costimulatory molecules than CD8+ and corresponding control DCs. Adoptive transfer experiments showed that these two DC subsets, unlike CD8+ DCs, were able to present Ags orally coadministered with CT in an immunostimulating manner. The ability of CT to mobilize immature DCs in the intestinal epithelium and to promote their emigration and differentiation in draining lymph nodes may explain the exceptional adjuvant properties of this toxin on mucosal immune responses.