Innate immune cells are generated through central and peripheral differentiation pathways, and receive multiple signals from tissue microenvironment. The complex interplay between immune cell state and environmental signals is crucial for the adaptation and efficient response to pathogenic threats. Here, we discuss how systems biology approaches have brought global view and high resolution to the characterization of (1) immune cell diversity, (2) phenotypic, transcriptional and functional changes in response to environmental signals, (3) integration of multiple stimuli. We will mostly focus on systems level studies in dendritic cells and macrophages. Generalization of these approaches should elucidate innate immune cell diversity and plasticity, and may be used in the human to generate hypothesis on cell filiation and novel strategies for immunotherapy.