Antigen cross-presentation describes the process through which dendritic cells (DCs) acquire exogenous antigens for presentation on MHC class I molecules. The ability to cross-present has been thought of as a feature of specialized DC subsets. Emerging data, however, suggest that the cross-presenting ability of each DC subset is tuned by and dependent on several factors, such as DC location and activation status, and the type of antigen and inflammatory signals. Thus, we argue that capacity of cross-presentation is not an exclusive trait of one or several distinct DC subtypes, but rather a common feature of the DC family in both mice and humans. Understanding DC subset activation and antigen-presentation pathways might yield improved tools and targets to exploit the unique cross-presenting capacity of DCs in immunotherapy.