TLRs are highly conserved pathogen recognition receptors. As a result, TLR4-deficient C3H/HeJ mice are highly susceptible to Gram-negative sepsis. We have previously demonstrated that tolerance induced by bacterial lipoprotein (BLP) protects wild-type mice against polymicrobial sepsis-induced lethality. In this study, we assessed whether pretreatment of C3H/HeJ mice with BLP could induce resistance to a subsequent Gram-negative Salmonella typhimurium infection. Pretreatment with BLP resulted in a significant survival benefit in TLR4-deficient C3H/HeJ mice (p < 0.0002 vs control C3H/HeJ) after challenge with live S. typhimurium (0.25 X 10(6) CFU/mouse). This survival benefit was associated with enhanced bacterial clearance from the circulation and in the visceral organs (p < 0.05 vs control C3H/HeJ). Furthermore, pretreatment with BLP resulted in significant increases in complement receptor type 3 (CR3) and FcgammaIII/IIR expression on polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) and macrophages (p < 0.05 vs control C3H/HeJ). There was impaired bacterial recognition and phagocytosis in TLR4-deficient mice compared with wild-type mice. However, a significant augmented. uptake, ingestion, and intracellular killing of S. typhimurium by PMNs and peritoneal macrophages was evident in BLP-pretreated C3H/HeJ mice (p < 0.05 vs control C3H/HeJ). An up-regulation of inducible NO synthase and increased production of intracellular NO were observed in peritoneal macrophages from BLP-pretreated C3H/HeJ mice (p < 0.05 vs control C3H/HeJ). Depletion of PMNs did not diminish the beneficial effects of BLP with regard to both animal survival and bacterial clearance. These results, indicate that BLP, a TLR2 ligand, protects highly susceptible TLR4-deficient mice from Gram-negative sepsis via enhanced bacterial clearance.