Innate defense regulator-1 (IDR-1) is a synthetic peptide with no antimicrobial activity that enhances microbial infection control while suppressing inflammation. Previously, the effects of IDR-1 were postulated to impact several regulatory pathways including mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38 and CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein, but how this was mediated was unknown. Using a combined stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture-proteomics methodology, we identified the cytoplasmic scaffold protein p62 as the molecular target of IDR-1. Direct IDR-1 binding to p62 was confirmed by several biochemical binding experiments, and the p62 ZZ-type zinc finger domain was identified as the IDR-1 binding site. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis of p62 molecular complexes demonstrated that IDR-1 enhanced the tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced p62 receptor-interacting protein 1 (RIP1) complex formation but did not affect tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced p62-protein kinase zeta complex formation. In addition, IDR-1 induced p38 MAPK activity in a p62-dependent manner and increased CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein beta activity, whereas NF-kappaB activity was unaffected. Collectively, these results demonstrate that IDR-1 binding to p62 specifically affects protein-protein interactions and subsequent downstream events. Our results implicate p62 in the molecular mechanisms governing innate immunity and identify p62 as a potential therapeutic target in both infectious and inflammatory diseases.