Although several observations show local T cell recognition of retinal Ag, there has been no direct demonstration that the APC were retinal derived, rather than recruited. In this study, CD45+ cells isolated from immunologically quiescent murine retina were tested in vitro for functional evidence of Ag presentation to naive and Ag-experienced CD4 T cells specific for β-galactosidase. Because CD45+ cells from brain have been reported to be efficient APC, they were included for comparison. Measures of activation included changes in CD4, CD25, CD44, CD45RB, CD62L, CD69, caspase-3 activation, CFSE dilution, size, number of cells recovered, and cytokine production. Retinal CD45+ cells gave no evidence of Ag-dependent TCR ligation in naive T cells, unlike splenic APC and CD45+ cells from brain, which supported potent responses. Instead, addition of retinal CD45 + cells to cocultures of naive 3E9 T cells plus splenic APC reduced the yield of activated T cells and cytokine production by limiting T cell activation at early time points. Ag-experienced T cells responded weakly to Ag presented by retinal CD45+ cells. Activating the retinal cells with IFN-γ, anti-CD40, or LPS incrementally increased their APC activity. Addition of neutralizing Abs to TGF-β did not reveal suppressed retinal APC activity. Because retina lacks tissue equivalents of meninges and choroid plexus, rich sources of dendritic cells in brain, cells from retina may better represent the APC activity of fresh, adult CNS parenchymal and perivascular cells. The activity of the retinal CD45+ cells appears to be directed to limiting T cell responses.