In this study, we have attempted to determine whether the systemic administration of CpG oligodeoxynucleotide (CpG-ODN) 1826 would protect mice against systemic lethal Candida albicans infection. CpG-ODNs were found completely to protect mice from death and also reduced the growth of C. albicans in the kidneys. The administration of CpG-ODNs resulted in early interleukin (IL)-12 mRNA expression in the kidneys and an increase in serum IL-12 levels. The protective activity of CpG-ODN was abolished in IL-12-deficient (IL-12−/−) mice, thereby indicating the IL-12-dependency inherent to the effects of CpG-ODN. The protective effect of CpG-ODN was not associated with the activity of NF-κB. Interestingly, in tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-deficient (TNF−/−) mice CpG-ODN neither exerted protective effects nor induced IL-12 expression. These data indicate that CpG-ODN protects animals against lethal C. albicans challenge via a pathway that involves the TNF-α-dependent induction of IL-12.