The human intestine is colonized by an estimated 100 trillion bacteria. Some of these bacteria are essential for normal physiology, whereas others have been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple inflammatory diseases including IBD and asthma. This review examines the influence of signals from intestinal bacteria on the homeostasis of the mammalian immune system in the context of health and disease. We review the bacterial composition of the mammalian intestine, known bacterial-derived immunoregulatory molecules, and the mammalian innate immune receptors that recognize them. We discuss the influence of bacterial-derived signals on immune cell function and the mechanisms by which these signals modulate the development and progression of inflammatory disease. We conclude with an examination of successes and future challenges in using bacterial communities or their products in the prevention or treatment of human disease.