Experimental data have shown an upregulated expression of toll-like receptors, particularly toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), in neurodegeneration. The Asp299Gly polymorphism of the TLR4 gene has been associated with an attenuated receptor signalling and a blunted inflammatory response. In the present study, we sought to determine whether this common genetic variant could influence susceptibility to late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) in an Italian population sample. A cohort of 277 LOAD patients and 300 cognitively healthy controls were genotyped for the TLR4 Asp299Gly polymorphism using restriction isotyping. The frequency of the minor 299Gly allele was significantly higher in the controls than in the LOAD cases (7.2% versus 3.1%, respectively, P=0.003). Additionally, the frequency of the variant genotypes (Asp/Gly and Gly/Gly) was 13.0% in the controls and 5.4% in LOAD patients (P=0.002). After adjustment for age, gender, and the APOE varepsilon4 carrier status, the odds ratio for the development of LOAD associated with the Asp/Gly and Gly/Gly versus Asp/Asp genotype was 0.37 (95% CI: 0.20-0.69, P=0.002). Our data further support a role for innate immunity in neurodegeneration and give the first evidence that the TLR4 Asp299Gly variant may be protective toward the development of LOAD.