Macrophages are critical mediators of innate immune responses against bacteria. The Gram-positive bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus express a range of virulence factors, which challenge macrophages' immune competence. We review how macrophages respond to this challenge. Macrophages employ a range of strategies to phagocytose and kill each pathogen. When the macrophages capacity to clear bacteria is overwhelmed macrophages play important roles in orchestrating the inflammatory response through pattern recognition receptor-mediated responses. Macrophages also ensure the inflammatory response is tightly constrained, to avoid tissue damage, and play an important role in downregulating the inflammatory response once initial bacterial replication is controlled.