Burkholderia pseudomallei is a facultative intracellular pathogen and the causative agent of melioidosis, a spectrum of potentially fatal diseases endemic in Northern Australia and South-East Asia. We demonstrate that B. pseudomallei rapidly modifies infected macrophage-like cells in a manner analagous to osteoclastogenesis. These alterations include multinucleation and the expression by infected cells of mRNA for factors required for osteoclastogenesis: the chemokines monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1), macrophage inflammatory protein 1 gamma (MIP-1gamma), 'regulated on activation normal T cell expressed and secreted' (RANTES) and the transcription factor 'nuclear factor of activated T-cells cytoplasmic 1' (NFATc1). An increase in expression of these factors was also observed after infection with Burkholderia thailandensis. Expression of genes for the osteoclast markers calcitonin receptor (CTR), cathepsin K (CTSK) and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) was also increased by B. pseudomallei-infected, but not by B. thailandensis-infected cells. The expression by B. pseudomallei-infected cells of these chemokine and osteoclast marker genes was remarkably similar to cells treated with RANKL, a stimulator of osteoclastogenesis. Analysis of dentine resorption by B. pseudomallei-induced osteoclast-like cells revealed that demineralization may occur but that authentic excavation does not take place under the tested conditions. Furthermore, we identified and characterized lfpA (for lactonase family protein A) in B. pseudomallei, which shares significant sequence similarity with the eukaryotic protein 'regucalcin', also known as 'senescence marker protein-30' (SMP-30). LfpA orthologues are widespread in prokaryotes and are well conserved, but are phylogenetically distinct from eukaryotic regucalcin orthologues. We demonstrate that lfpA mRNA expression is dramatically increased in association with macrophage-like cells. Mutation of lfpA significantly reduced expression of the tested host genes, relative to the response to wild-type B. pseudomallei. We also show that lfpA is required for optimal virulence in vivo.