The tumor suppressor p53 has been implicated in multiple functions that play key roles in health and disease, including ribosome biogenesis, control of aging, and cell cycle regulation. A genetic screen for negative regulators of innate immunity in Caenorhabditis elegans led to the identification of a mutation in NOL-6, a nucleolar RNA-associated protein (NRAP), which is involved in ribosome biogenesis and conserved across eukaryotic organisms. Mutation or silencing of NOL-6 and other nucleolar proteins results in an enhanced resistance to bacterial infections. A full-genome microarray analysis on animals with altered immune function due to mutation in nol-6 shows increased transcriptional levels of genes regulated by a p53 homologue, CEP-1. Further studies indicate that the activation of innate immunity by inhibition of nucleolar proteins requires p53/CEP-1 and its transcriptional target SYM-1. Since nucleoli and p53/CEP-1 are conserved, our results reveal an ancient immune mechanism by which the nucleolus may regulate immune responses against bacterial pathogens.