Monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) is an important chemokine that induces monocyte recruitment in a number of different pathologies, including infection. To investigate the role of MCP-1 in protecting a host from a chronic interstitial polymicrobial infection, dental pulps of MCP-1(-/-) mice and controls were inoculated with six different oral pathogens. In this model the recruitment of leukocytes and the impact of a genetic deletion on the susceptibility to infection can be accurately assessed by measuring the progression of soft tissue necrosis and osteolytic lesion formation. The absence of MCP-1 significantly impaired the recruitment of monocytes, which at later time points was threefold higher in the wild-type mice than in MCP-1(-/-) mice (P < 0.05). The consequence was significantly enhanced rates of soft tissue necrosis and bone resorption (P < 0.05). We also determined that the MCP-1(-/-) mice were able to recruit polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) to a similar or greater extent as controls and to produce equivalent levels of Porphyromonas gingivalis-specific total immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgG1. These results point to the importance of MCP-1 expression and monocyte recruitment in antibacterial defense and demonstrate that antibacterial defense is not due to an indirect effect on PMN recruitment or modulation of the adaptive immune response.