Inflammatory bowel diseases are common chronic inflammatory disorders. The majority are idiopathic and can be broadly divided into Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Their cause is unknown, but most hypotheses focus on a primary role for T-cell dysfunction. Conversely, there is a collection of congenital disorders of phagocyte function that result not only in immunodeficiency but also in noninfectious inflammatory bowel disease. In all cases, the latter is strikingly reminiscent of the clinical and pathological features of Crohn's disease. This coincides with recent work demonstrating that despite previous emphasis on adaptive immune dysfunction, patients with Crohn's disease actually possess an unusually weak acute innate inflammatory response. This review consolidates the literature on inflammatory bowel disease in congenital immunodeficiencies and considers the role of phagocyte dysfunction in Crohn's disease. Concepts about pathogenesis and treatment that can be carried across these disorders are also discussed.