Campylobacter jejuni is the most common bacterial cause of human gastroenteritis and often precedes development of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a life-threatening paralytic disease. The incorporation of the carbohydrate sialic acid into C. jejuni lipooligosaccharides (LOS) is associated with increased severity of gastroenteritis and with induction of GBS; however, the underlying mechanisms remain completely unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that sialic acids in C. jejuni endotoxin enhance the rapid production of IFN-beta and TNF-alpha by human dendritic cells (DCs). Using neutralizing Abs and receptors it was shown that these DC-derived cytokines promote the proliferation of human mucosal B cells in a T cell-independent manner. The production of both IFN-beta and TNF-alpha by DCs in response to LOS requires CD14, and the amplified response of DCs to sialylated C. jejuni LOS is CD14 dependent. Together, these results indicate that sialylation of C. jejuni LOS increases DC activation and promotes subsequent B cell responses through CD14-driven production of IFN-beta and TNF-alpha. This enhanced DC/B cell response may explain the increased pathogenicity of sialylated C. jejuni and may be key to the initiation of B cell-mediated autoimmunity in GBS.