Bacterial lipopolysaccharide triggers human caspase-4 (murine caspase-11) to cleave gasdermin-D and induce pyroptotic cell death. How lipopolysaccharide sequestered in the membranes of cytosol-invading bacteria activates caspases remains unknown. Here we show that in interferon-γ-stimulated cells guanylate-binding proteins (GBPs) assemble on the surface of Gram-negative bacteria into polyvalent signaling platforms required for activation of caspase-4. Caspase-4 activation is hierarchically controlled by GBPs; GBP1 initiates platform assembly, GBP2 and GBP4 control caspase-4 recruitment, and GBP3 governs caspase-4 activation. In response to cytosol-invading bacteria, activation of caspase-4 through the GBP platform is essential to induce gasdermin-D-dependent pyroptosis and processing of interleukin-18, thereby destroying the replicative niche for intracellular bacteria and alerting neighboring cells, respectively. Caspase-11 and GBPs epistatically protect mice against lethal bacterial challenge. Multiple antagonists of the pathway encoded by Shigella flexneri, a cytosol-adapted bacterium, provide compelling evolutionary evidence for the importance of the GBP-caspase-4 pathway in antibacterial defense.