Dendritic cells (DCs) are crucial in the defence against pathogens. Invading pathogens are recognized by Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and receptors such as C-type lectins expressed on the surface of DCs. However, it is becoming evident that some pathogens, including viruses, such as HIV-1, and non-viral pathogens, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, subvert DC functions to escape immune surveillance by targeting the C-type lectin DC-SIGN (DC-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-grabbing nonintegrin). Notably, these pathogens misuse DC-SIGN by distinct mechanisms that either circumvent antigen processing or alter TLR-mediated signalling, skewing T-cell responses. This implies that adaptation of pathogens to target DC-SIGN might support pathogen survival.