Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a crucial role in host defense against microbial infection. The microbial ligands recognized by TLRs are not unique to pathogens, however, and are produced by both pathogenic and commensal microorganisms. It is thought that an inflammatory response to commensal bacteria is avoided due to sequestration of microflora by surface epithelia. Here, we show that commensal bacteria are recognized by TLRs under normal steady-state conditions, and this interaction plays a crucial role in the maintenance of intestinal epithelial homeostasis. Furthermore, we find that activation of TLRs by commensal microflora is critical for the protection against gut injury and associated mortality. These findings reveal a novel function of TLRs-control of intestinal epithelial homeostasis and protection from injury-and provide a new perspective on the evolution of host-microbial interactions.