Mice with targeted mutations of CD18, the common beta2 subunit of CD11/CD18 integrins, have leukocytosis, impaired transendothelial neutrophil emigration, and reduced host defense to Streptococcus pneumoniae, a gram-positive extracellular bacterium. Previous studies using blocking monoclonal antibodies suggested roles for CD18 and CD11b in hepatic neutrophil recruitment and host innate response to Listeria monocytogenes, a gram-positive intracellular bacterium. We induced systemic listeriosis in CD18 knockout (CD18-ko) and wild-type (WT) mice by tail vein injection with Listeria. By 14 days postinjection (dpi), 8 of 10 WT mice died, compared with 2 of 10 CD18-ko mice (P < 0.01). Quantitative organ culture showed that numbers of Listeria organisms in livers and spleens were similar in both groups at 20 min postinfection. By 3, 5, and 7 dpi, however, numbers of Listeria organisms were significantly lower in livers and spleens of CD18-ko mice than in WT mice. Histopathology showed that following Listeria infection, CD18-ko mice had milder inflammatory and necrotizing lesions in both spleens and livers than did WT mice. Cytokine assays indicated that baseline interleukin-1beta and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) levels were higher in CD18-ko mice than in WT mice and that CD18-ko splenocytes produced higher levels of interleukin-1beta and G-CSF than WT splenocytes under the same amount of Listeria stimulation. These findings show that CD18 is not an absolute requirement for antilisterial innate immunity or hepatic neutrophil recruitment. We propose that the absence of CD18 in the mice results in the priming of innate immunity, as evidenced by elevated cytokine expression, and neutrophilic leukocytosis, which augments antilisterial defense.