Mammalian Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) senses flagellin of several bacterial species and activates the innate immune system. The avian TLR repertoire exhibits considerable functional diversity compared to mammalian TLRs and evidence of a functional TLR5 in the avian species is lacking. In the present study we cloned and successfully expressed chicken TLR5 (chTLR5) in HeLa cells, as indicated by laser confocal microscopy. Infection of chTLR5 transfected cells with Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis activated NF-kappaB in a dose- and flagellin-dependent fashion. Similar NF-kappaB activation was observed with recombinant bacterial flagellin. Targeted mutagenesis of the proline residue at position 737 in the chTLR5-TIR domain was detrimental to chTLR5 function, confirming that the observed effects were conferred via chTLR5 and the MyD88 signaling pathway. Comparison of human, mouse and chicken TLR5 activation by flagellin of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium revealed that chTLR5 consistently yielded stronger responses than human but not mouse TLR5. This species-specific reactivity was not observed with flagellin of serovar Enteritidis. The species-specific TLR5 response was nullified after targeted mutagenesis of a single amino acid (Q89A) in serovar Typhimurium flagellin, while L415A and N100A substitutions had no effect. These results show that chickens express a functional TLR5 albeit with different flagellin sensing qualities compared to human TLR5. The finding that single amino acid substitutions in bacterial flagellin can alter the species-specific TLR5 response may influence the host range and susceptibility of infection.