The mammalian intestinal mucosal surface is continuously exposed to a complex and dynamic community of microorganisms. These microbes establish symbiotic relationships with their hosts, making important contributions to metabolism and digestive efficiency. The intestinal epithelial surface is the primary interface between the vast microbiota and internal host tissues. Given the enormous numbers of enteric bacteria and the persistent threat of opportunistic invasion, it is crucial that mammalian hosts monitor and regulate microbial interactions with intestinal epithelial surfaces. Here we discuss recent insights into how the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system collaborate to maintain homeostasis at the luminal surface of the intestinal host-microbial interface. These findings are also yielding a better understanding of how symbiotic host-microbial relationships can break down in inflammatory bowel disease.