The innate myeloid immune system is a complex network of cells that protect against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumour cells, but it is also implicated in homoeostatic mechanisms such as tissue remodelling and wound healing. Myeloid phagocytes such as monocytes, macrophages or dendritic cells are at the basis of controlling these immune responses in all tissues of the body. In the present review, we summarize recent studies demonstrating that mTOR [mammalian (or mechanistic) target of rapamycin] regulates innate immune reactions in macrophages and dendritic cells. The mTOR pathway serves as a decision maker to control the cellular response to pathogens and tumours by regulating the expression of inflammatory mediators such as cytokines, chemokines or interferons. In addition to various in vivo mouse models, kidney transplant patients under mTOR inhibitor therapy allowed the elucidation of important innate immune functions regulated by mTOR in humans. The role of the mTOR pathway in macrophages and dendritic cells enhances our understanding of the immune system and suggests new therapeutic avenues for the regulation of pro- versus anti-inflammatory mediators with potential relevance to cancer therapy, the design of novel adjuvants and the control of distinct infectious and autoimmune diseases.