It has been known for almost 30 years that mouse B cells proliferate and differentiate to antibody-secreting cells when stimulated by microbial products such as lipopolysaccharide or CpG-containing DNA, but the relevance of these polyclonal responses remained elusive until recently. A breakthrough in the field has been the discovery of endosomal Toll-like receptors in B cells and their role in the production of autoantibodies. Since then, several reports have extended the role of Toll-like receptors in B-cell responses to thymus-independent and thymus-dependent antigens, and in antibody class switch in lymphoid and extralymphoid tissues. Considering the complexity of the system it is perhaps not surprising that the literature contains some contradictory findings. However, the scientific fecundity in this rapidly evolving field will probably give rise to discoveries that could be translated into more effective vaccines and immunotherapies.