In the resolution of inflammatory responses, neutrophils rapidly undergo apoptosis. We describe a new proapoptotic pathway in which cathepsin D directly activates caspase-8. Cathepsin D is released from azurophilic granules in neutrophils in a caspase-independent but reactive oxygen species-dependent manner. Under inflammatory conditions, the translocation of cathepsin D in the cytosol is blocked. Pharmacological or genetic inhibition of cathepsin D resulted in delayed caspase activation and reduced neutrophil apoptosis. Cathepsin D deficiency or lack of its translocation in the cytosol prolongs innate immune responses in experimental bacterial infection and in septic shock. Thus, we identified a new function of azurophilic granules that is in addition to their role in bacterial defense mechanisms: to regulate the life span of neutrophils and, therefore, the duration of innate immune responses through the release of cathepsin D.