Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, is a transcription factor that controls energy metabolism and angiogenesis under hypoxic conditions, and a potent regulator of innate immunity. The studies described herein examined the role of HIF-1α in disease resolution in BALB/c (resistant, cornea heals) mice after ocular infection with Pseudomonas (P.) aeruginosa. Furthermore, the current studies focused on the neutrophil (PMN), the predominant cell infiltrate in keratitis. Using both siRNA and an antagonist (17-DMAG), the role of HIF-1α was assessed in P. aeruginosa-infected BALB/c mice. Clinical score and slit lamp photography indicated HIF-1α inhibition exacerbated disease and corneal destruction. Real time RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, ELISA, Greiss and MPO assays, bacterial load, intracellular killing, phagocytosis and apoptosis assays further tested the regulatory role of HIF-1α. Despite increased pro-inflammatory cytokine expression and increased MPO levels after knocking down HIF-1α expression, in vivo studies revealed a decrease in NO production and higher bacterial load. In vitro studies using PMN provided evidence that although inhibition of HIF-1α did not affect phagocytosis, both bacterial killing and apoptosis were significantly affected, as was production of antimicrobial peptides. Overall, data provide evidence that inhibition of HIF-1α converts a normally resistant disease response to susceptible (corneal thinning and perforation) after induction of bacterial keratitis. Although this inhibition does not appear to affect PMN transmigration or phagocytosis, both in vivo and in vitro approaches indicate that the transcriptional factor is essential for effective bacterial killing, apoptosis and antimicrobial peptide production.