Dendritic cells (DCs) and natural killer (NK) cells are essential components of the innate immunity and play a crucial role in the first phase of host defense against infections and tumors. Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is an intracellular pathogen that colonizes the cytosol of eukaryotic cells. Recent findings have shown Lm specifically in splenic CD8a(+) DCs shortly after intravenous infection. We examined gene expression profiles of mouse DCs exposed to Lm to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying DCs interaction with Lm. Using a functional genomics approach, we found that Lm infection induced a cluster of late response genes including type I IFNs and interferon responsive genes (IRGs) in DCs. Type I INFs were produced at the maximal level only at 24 h post infection indicating that the regulation of IFNs in the context of Lm infection is delayed compared to the rapid response observed with viral pathogens. We showed that during Lm infection, IFNγ production and cytotoxic activity were severely impaired in NK cells compared to E. coli infection. These defects were restored by providing an exogenous source of IFNβ during the initial phase of bacterial challenge. Moreover, when treated with IFNβ during early infection, NK cells were able to reduce bacterial titer in the spleen and significantly improve survival of infected mice. These findings show that the timing of IFNβ production is fundamental to the efficient control of the bacterium during the early innate phase of Lm infection.