Recent studies have provided evidence that a type I interferon (IFN)-driven immune response might play an important role in the pathogenesis of lichen planus (LP), an inflammatory disorder of the skin of unclear etiology. Plasmacytoid dendritic cells in affected skin from LP have been proposed to produce IFN-α/β locally, which leads to the expression of IFN-inducible chemokines such as IP10/CXCL10 in the epidermis. This chemokine recruits chemokine receptor CXCR3-expressing T-lymphocytes into the skin via CXCR3/IP10 interactions. Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), which degrades tryptophan and suppresses T-cell proliferation, is induced by IFNs and other inflammatory cytokines. We show that type I IFN-mediated skin disorders, such as LP, strongly express IDO in lesional skin. This expression closely correlates to the expression of the highly specific type I EFN marker MxA. We further demonstrate that the IDO+ cells in LP are large myeloid CD11c +S100+CD68- dendritic cells. Accordingly, CD11c+ antigen-presenting cells significantly up-regulate IDO gene expression and intracellular IDO protein expression after stimulation with IFN-α in vitro. These findings reveal that both proinflammatory and counterregulatory mechanisms are operative in cutaneous lesions of LP. We propose that the balance of these mechanisms may be involved in the pathogenesis of this disorder.