The macrophage is a key component of host defense mechanisms against pathogens. In addition to the phagocytosis of bacteria and secretion of proinflammatory mediators by macrophages, autophagy, a process involved in turnover of cellular material, is a recently identified component of the immune response to bacterial infection. Despite the bactericidal effect of autophagy, some species of intracellular bacteria are able to survive by using one or more strategies to avoid host autophagic attack. Here, we review the latest findings on the interactions between bacteria and autophagy in macrophages. (c) 2012 IUBMB.