The induction of proinflammatory T cells by dendritic cell (DC) subtypes is critical for antitumor responses and effective immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy. Here, we show that human CD1c+CD5+ DCs are reduced in melanoma-affected lymph nodes, with CD5 expression on DCs correlating with patient survival. Activating CD5 on DCs enhanced T cell priming and improved survival after ICB therapy. CD5+ DC numbers increased during ICB therapy, and low interleukin-6 (IL-6) concentrations promoted their de novo differentiation. Mechanistically, CD5 expression by DCs was required to generate optimally protective CD5hi T helper and CD8+ T cells; further, deletion of CD5 from T cells dampened tumor elimination in response to ICB therapy in vivo. Thus, CD5+ DCs are an essential component of optimal ICB therapy.