Our main objective was to analyze the role of lipid rafts in the activation of Valpha-14(-) and Valpha-14(+) T hybridomas by dendritic cells. We showed that activation of Valpha-14(+) hybridomas by dendritic cells or other CD1d-expressing cells was altered by disruption of lipid rafts with the cholesterol chelator MbetaCD. However, CD1d presentation to autoreactive Valpha-14(-) anti-CD1d hybridomas which do not require the endocytic pathway was not altered. Using partitioning of membrane fractions with Brij98 at 37 degrees C, we confirmed that CD1d was enriched in subcellular fractions corresponding to lipid rafts and we describe that alpha-GalCer enhanced CD1d amount in the low density detergent insoluble fraction. We conclude that the membrane environment of CD1d can influence antigen presentation mainly when the endocytic pathway is required. Flow cytometry analysis can provide additional information on lipid rafts in plasma membranes and allows a dynamics follow-up of lipid rafts partitioning. Using this method, we showed that CD1d plasma membrane expression was sensitive to low concentrations of detergent. This may suggest either that CD1d is associated with lipid rafts mainly in intracellular membranes or that its association with the lipid rafts in the plasma membrane is weak.