Several factors contribute to the high mortality attributed to severe infections in resource-limited settings. While improvements in survival and processes of care have been made in high-income settings among patients with severe conditions, such as sepsis, guidelines necessary for achieving these improvements may lack applicability or have not been tested in resource-limited settings. The World Health Organization's recent publication of the Integrated Management of Adolescent and Adult Illness District Clinician Manual provides details on how to optimize management of severely ill, hospitalized patients in such settings, including specific guidance on the management of patients with septic shock and respiratory failure without shock. This manuscript provides the context, process and underpinnings of these sepsis guidelines. In light of the current deficits in care and the limitations associated with these guidelines, the authors propose implementing these standardized best practice guidelines while using them as a foundation for sepsis research undertaken in, and directly relevant to, resource-limited settings.