LPS-binding protein (LBP) recognizes bacterial LPS and transfers it to CD14, thereby enhancing host cell stimulation, eventually resulting in pathogenic states such as septic shock. Recently, LBP also was shown to detoxify LPS by transferring LPS into HDL particles in vitro. Thus, the predominant in vivo function of LBP has remained unclear. To investigate the biological activity of acute phase concentrations of recombinant murine LBP, high concentrations of LBP were investigated in vitro and in vivo. Although addition of low concentrations of LBP to a murine macrophage cell line enhanced LPS-induced TNF-alpha synthesis, acute phase concentrations of LBP blocked this effect in comparison to low-dose LBP. When injected into mice intraperitoneally, LBP inhibited LPS-mediated cytokine release and prevented hepatic failure resulting in a significantly decreased mortality rate in LPS-challenged and D-galactosamine-sensitized mice, as well as in a murine model of bacteremia. These results complement a recent study revealing LBP-deficient mice to be dramatically more susceptible to an intraperitoneal Salmonella infection as compared with normal mice. We conclude that acute phase LBP has a protective effect against LPS and bacterial infection and may represent a physiologic defense mechanism against infection. Despite the limitations of any murine sepsis model, the results shown may imply that LBP could have beneficial effects during gram-negative peritonitis in humans.