The complement system plays a crucial role in the innate defense against common pathogens. Activation of complement leads to robust and efficient proteolytic cascades, which terminate in opsonization and lysis of the pathogen as well as in the generation of the classical inflammatory response through the production of potent proinflammatory molecules. More recently, however, the role of complement in the immune response has been expanded due to observations that link complement activation to adaptive immune responses. It is now appreciated that complement is a functional bridge between innate and adaptive immune responses that allows an integrated host defense to pathogenic challenges. As such, a study of its functions allows insight into the molecular underpinnings of host-pathogen interactions as well as the organization and orchestration of the host immune response. This review attempts to summarize the roles that complement plays in both innate and adaptive immune responses and the consequences of these interactions on host defense.