Lipoteichoic acid (LTA) represents immunostimulatory molecules expressed by Gram-positive bacteria. They activate the innate immune system via Toll-like receptors. We have investigated the role of serum proteins in activation of human macrophages by LTA from Staphylococcus aureus and found it to be strongly attenuated by serum. In contrast, the same cells showed a sensitive response to LTA and a significantly enhanced production of tumor necrosis factor α under serum-free conditions. We show that LTA interacts with the serum protein lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP) and inhibits the integration of LBP into phospholipid membranes, indicating the formation of complexes of LTA and soluble LBP. The addition of recombinant human LBP to serum-free medium inhibited the production of tumor necrosis factor α and interleukins 6 and 8 after stimulation of human macrophages with LTA in a dose-dependent manner. Using anti-LBP antibodies, this inhibitory effect could be attributed to soluble LBP, whereas LBP in its recently described transmembrane configuration did not modulate cell activation. Also, using primary alveolar macrophages from rats, we show a sensitive cytokine response to LTA under serum-free culture conditions that was strongly attenuated in the presence of serum. In summary, our data suggest that innate immune recognition of LTA is organ-specific with negative regulation by LBP in serum-containing compartments and sensitive recognition in serum-free compartments like the lung.