Mastitis, an inflammatory response of the mammary tissue to invading pathogenic bacteria, is a common disease in breast-feeding women and dairy animals. Escherichia coli is a leading cause of mastitis in dairy animals. During the course of the disease the host mounts a strong inflammatory response, but specific bacterial virulence factors have not yet been identified. Here we report the use of a murine mastitis model to investigate the innate inflammatory reaction of the mammary gland. We show that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) infusion induces mastitis in wild-type mice (C3H/HeN), but not in mice expressing mutated Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) (C3H/HeJ). The wild-type phenotype was restored by adoptive transfer of TLR4-expressing macrophages into the alveolar milk space of C3H/HeJ mice. In contrast to the LPS treatment, infection with E. coli P4 (ECP4) resulted in inflammation even in the absence of LPS/TLR4 signalling, indicating that additional factors play a role in the pathogenesis of the intact bacteria. Furthermore, in the absence of functional TLR4 the infecting ECP4 invade the epithelial cells with high efficiency, forming intracellular microcolonies. However, adoptive transfer with TLR4-expressing macrophages drastically reduced the epithelial invasion. Taken together, these results indicate that ECP4 has an invasive potential, which is restricted by alveolar macrophages in response to the LPS/TLR4 signalling.