Summary The cytosolic innate immune molecule, NOD1, recognizes peptidoglycan (PG) delivered to epithelial cells via the Helicobacter pyloricag pathogenicity island (cagPAI), and has been implicated in host defence against cagPAI(+)H. pylori bacteria. To further clarify the role of NOD1 in host defence, we investigated NOD1-dependent regulation of human beta-defensins (DEFBs) in two epithelial cell lines. Our findings identify that NOD1 activation, via either cagPAI(+) bacteria or internalized PG, was required for DEFB4 and DEFB103 expression in HEK293 cells. To investigate cell type-specific induction of DEFB4 and DEFB103, we generated stable NOD1 knockdown (KD) and control AGS cells. Reporter gene assay and RT-PCR analyses revealed that only DEFB4 was induced in a NOD1-/cagPAI-dependent fashion in AGS cells. Moreover, culture supernatants from AGS control, but not AGS NOD1 KD cells, stimulated with cagPAI(+)H. pylori, significantly reduced H. pylori bacterial numbers. siRNA studies confirmed that human beta-defensin 2 (hBD-2), but not hBD-3, contributes to the antimicrobial activity of AGS cell supernatants against H. pylori. This study demonstrates for the first time the involvement of NOD1 and hBD-2 in direct killing of H. pylori bacteria by epithelial cells and confirms the importance of NOD1 in host defence mechanisms against cagPAI(+)H. pylori infection.