beta-defensins are antimicrobial peptides with an essential role in the innate immune response. In addition beta-defensins can also chemoattract cells involved in adaptive immunity. Until now, based on evidence from dendritic cell stimulation, human beta defensin-3 (hBD3) was considered pro-inflammatory. We present evidence here that hBD3 lacks pro-inflammatory activity in human and mouse primary M phi. In addition, in the presence of LPS, hBD3 and the murine orthologue Defb14 (but not hBD2), effectively inhibit TNF-alpha and IL-6 accumulation implying an anti-inflammatory function. hBD3 also inhibits CD40/IFN-gamma stimulation of M phi and in vivo, hBD3 significantly reduces the LPS-induced TNF-alpha level in serum. Recent work has revealed that hBD3 binds melanocortin receptors but we provide evidence that these are not involved in hBD3 immunomodulatory activity. This implies a dual role for hBD3 in antimicrobial activity and resolution of inflammation.