Interleukin (IL)-18 is considered to induce exclusively the Th1 immune response but not the Th2 response in the presence of adequate IL-12 stimulation in bacterial infections. However, we demonstrate herein that multiple IL-18 injections to the mice not only enhance the early Th1 response but also stimulate the Th2 response later after viable Escherichia coli infection. Multiple IL-18 injections (three alternate-day injections) raised the serum interferon (IFN)-gamma level at 6 h and serum Th2 cytokine levels, such as IL-4, IL-10 and IL-13, at 48 h after infection, while a single IL-18 injection increased only the serum IFN-gamma level. Depletion of mouse CD4+ cells suppressed the IL-18-induced Th2 cytokines, IL-4, IL-10 and IL-13. In contrast, depletion of natural killer (NK)1.1+ cells reduced the IFN-gamma and IL-13 levels. Moreover, multiple IL-18 injections up-regulated the serum IgM level at 72 h after infection while a single IL-18 injection did not. Interestingly, neutralization of IL-4 but not IFN-gamma partially suppressed the increased serum IgM. Liver mononuclear cells (MNCs) from the mice treated with multiple IL-18 injections significantly increased more production of not only IFN-gamma but also Th2 cytokines and IgM by in vitro lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation than those from the phosphate-buffered saline (PBS)-treated mice, while liver MNCs from the single IL-18-injected mice also increased IFN-gamma production but significantly suppressed IL-4 and IgM production compared to those from the PBS-treated mice. Our findings suggest that multiple injections of IL-18 up-regulate both the cellular and humoral innate immunities, thereby enhancing host defence against bacterial infections.