Nonopsonic interaction of host immune cells with pathogens is an important first line of defense. We hypothesized that nonopsonic recognition between type III group B streptococcus and human neutrophils would occur and that the interaction would be sufficient to trigger neutrophil activation. By using a serum-free system, it was found that heat-killed type III group B streptococci bound to neutrophils in a rapid, stable, and inoculum-dependent manner that did not result in ingestion. Transposon-derived type III strain COH1-13, which lacks capsular polysaccharide, and strain COH1-11 with capsular polysaccharide lacking terminal sialic acid demonstrated increased neutrophil binding, suggesting that capsular polysaccharide masks an underlying binding site. Experiments using monoclonal antibodies to complement receptor 1 and to the I domain or lectin site of complement receptor 3 did not inhibit binding, indicating that the complement receptors used for ingestion of opsonized group B streptococci were not required for nonopsonic binding. Nonopsonic binding resulted in rapid activation of cellular p38 and p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinases. This interaction was not an effective trigger for superoxide production but did promote release of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-8. The release of interleukin-8 was markedly suppressed by the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor SB203580 but was only minimally suppressed by the mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase inhibitor PD98059. Thus, nonopsonic binding of type III group B streptococci to neutrophils is sufficient to initiate intracellular signaling pathways and could serve as an arm of innate immunity of particular importance to the immature host.