Gene targeting of the adaptor molecule DAP12 in mice caused abnormal distribution and impaired antigen presentation capacity of dendritic cells (DCs). However, the DAP12-associated receptors expressed on DCs and their functions have not been identified yet. Here we show that the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-2 (TREM-2) is a cell surface receptor on human monocyte-derived DCs, which is associated with DAP12. TREM-2/DAP12 promotes upregulation of CC chemokine receptor 7, partial DC maturation, and DC survival through activation of protein tyrosine kinases and extracellular signal-regulated kinase. In contrast to Toll-like receptor-mediated signaling, TREM2/DAP12 stimulation is independent of nuclear factor-κB and p38 stress-activated protein kinase. This novel DC activation pathway may regulate DC homeostasis and amplify DC responses to pathogens, explaining the phenotype observed in DAP12-deficient mice.