Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory multifactorial disease in which immune responses are key pathogenetic factors. T cell-mediated immunity contributes to the initiation and progression of atherosclerotic disease, but the nature of antigens responsible for immune cell activation is still not completely elucidated. Convincing evidence supports a determinant role of autoimmune responses to self-structures in shaping the progression of the disease. Autoimmune responses may be directed against altered self-structures, such as oxidized low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Oxidative stress, increasingly reported in patients with atherosclerosis, is the major event causing protein structural modification, thus inducing the appearance of neo/cryptic epitopes on the molecule. Intraplaque hemorrhage, a common event in advanced lesions, causes the deposition of large amounts of hemoglobin (Hb). The pro-oxidative intraplaque microenvironment may induce structural changes in extra-erythrocytic free Hb, thus generating novel/cryptic autoantigenic epitopes.We demonstrated that an oxidized Hb preparation enriched in hemichromes expands IFN-γ-secreting T lymphocytes in patients with advanced carotid atherosclerosis and enhances the phenotypical and functional maturation of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Overall, our findings suggest that oxidized forms of Hb could act as a dangerous signal for the immune system, thus contributing to the inflammatory process that takes place within the atherosclerotic plaque.