Intranasal (i.n.) vaccination generates immunity across local, regional, and distant sites. However, nasal dendritic cells (DCs), pivotal for the induction of i.n. vaccine-induced immune responses, have not been studied in detail. Here, by using a variety of parameters, we define nasal DCs in mice and humans. Distinct subsets of classical DCs, dependent on the transcription factor zbtb46 were identified in the murine nose. The murine nasal DCs were Fms-related tyrosine 3 kinase ligand responsive and displayed unique phenotypic and functional characteristics, including the ability to present antigen, induce an allogeneic T-cell response, and migrate in response to lipopolysaccharide or live bacterial pathogens. Importantly, in a cohort of human volunteers, BDCA-1(+) DCs were observed to be the dominant nasal DC population at steady state. During chronic inflammation, the frequency of both BDCA-1(+) and BDCA-3(hi) DCs was reduced in the nasal tissue, associating the loss of these immune sentinels with chronic nasal inflammation. The present study is the first detailed description of the phenotypic, ontogenetic, and functional properties of nasal DCs, and will inform the design of preventative immunization strategies as well as therapeutic modalities against chronic rhinosinusitis.