Extrinsic atopic dermatitis (EAD) and intrinsic atopic dermatitis (IAD) patients suffer from recurrent bacterial and viral infections. In this study, we demonstrate significantly decreased expression of human beta defensin (HBD)-3, a potent antimicrobial peptide (AMP), in lesional skin of both IAD (p<0.01) and EAD patients (p<0.01), as compared to psoriasis patients. Using primary keratinocytes from EAD and IAD patients, we determined that the deficiency in HBD-3 expression is an acquired rather than a constitutive defect. Furthermore, we demonstrate the down-regulatory effect of IL-4, IL-10, and IL-13 - which are over-expressed in the skin of AD patients - on HBD-3 expression in keratinocytes. Additionally, treatment of EAD skin explants with antibodies against IL-4, IL-10, and IL-13 augmented the expression of HBD-3. These studies suggest that neutralizing the Th2 cytokine milieu in AD skin may augment the innate immune response against bacterial and viral pathogens.