Oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) containing CpG dinucleotides (CpG-ODN) mimic bacterial DNA and stimulate the innate immune system of vertebrates. Here, we investigated the effects of intraperitoneal (ip) administered CpG-ODN on the innate immune functions of chicken heterophils. Our results demonstrated CpG-ODN-dependent priming of chicken heterophil degranulation and oxidative burst. Heterophils from chickens treated with CpG-ODN exhibited significantly higher (p<0.05) degranulation activity compared to PBS and control ODN (ODN containing no CpG motif) treated groups when stimulated with opsonized Salmonella enterica serovar enteritidis. Similarly, oxidative burst activity, which generates bactericidal reactive oxygen species, was significantly higher (p<0.05) in heterophils from the CpG-ODN treated group than from PBS and control ODN groups when stimulated with formalin-killed S. enteritidis. The priming effects of CpG-ODN on heterophil immune functions continued at least 4 days post-treatment. In the infection study, newly hatched chickens were treated with CpG-ODN, control ODN or PBS for 24h then challenged with oral inoculation of S. enteritidis. A significant reduction (p<0.05) in colonization by S. enteritidis was observed in chickens treated with CpG-ODN. Our study provides evidence that immunostimulatory CpG-ODN potentiates the innate immune responses of heterophils and enhances resistance to infectious pathogens in neonatal chickens.