The respiratory epithelium plays a major role in the primary defense of the airways against infection. It has been demonstrated that bacterial products are involved in the induction of inflammatory reactions of the upper airways. Little is known about the effects of bacterial products on expression of the antimicrobial peptide hCAP-18/LL-37, the only human cathelicidin identified so far. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of bacterial products from both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria on the expression of hCAP-18/LL-37 by sinus epithelial cells using an air-exposed tissue culture model. Lipopolysaccharide and lipoteichoic acid both increased hCAP-18/LL-37 expression in cultured sinus epithelium as assessed by immunohistochemistry, where maximal stimulation occurred at 100 ngml−1 lipopolysaccharide or 10 μgml−1 lipoteichoic acid. The stimulatory effect of lipopolysaccharide and lipoteichoic acid was not restricted to expression of hCAP-18/LL-37, since also mucin expression and IL-8 release from cultured sinus epithelium cells were increased by lipopolysaccharide and lipoteichoic acid. This suggests that bacterial products may stimulate innate immunity in the upper airways.