Inflammasomes are cytosolic multiprotein complexes that assemble in response to a variety of infectious and noxious insults. Inflammasomes play a critical role in the initiation of innate immune responses, primarily by serving as platforms for the activation of inflammatory caspase proteases. One such caspase, CASPASE-1 (CASP1), initiates innate immune responses by cleaving pro-IL-1β and pro-IL-18, leading to their activation and release. CASP1 and another inflammatory caspase termed CASP11 can also initiate a rapid and inflammatory form of cell death termed pyroptosis. Several distinct inflammasomes have been described, each of which contains a unique sensor protein of the NLR (nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat-containing) superfamily or the PYHIN (PYRIN and HIN-200 domain-containing) superfamily. Here we describe the surprisingly diverse mechanisms by which NLR/PYHIN proteins sense bacteria and initiate innate immune responses. We conclude that inflammasomes represent a highly adaptable scaffold ideally suited for detecting and initiating rapid innate responses to diverse and rapidly evolving bacteria.