Synthetic antimicrobial 9-mer peptides were designed from the amino acid sequence of an active site of insect defensin to increase the number of positively charged amino acid residues. These peptides, RLRLRIGRR-NH2, RLLLRIGRR-NH2 and RLYLRIGRR-NH2, showed strong antimicrobial activity against bacteria and fungus. These peptides showed no growth inhibition activity against murine fibroblasts or macrophages and no hemolytic activity against rabbit erythrocytes in vitro. Furthermore, the administration of these peptides protected mice from a lethal methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) challenge. In addition, these peptides suppressed tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) gene expression and production induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or lipoteichoic acid (LTA) in murine macrophages.