The key question our work has sought to address has been, "What are the necessary and sufficient conditions that engender protection from intracellular pathogens in the human host?" The origins of this work derive from a long-standing interest in the mechanisms of protection against two such paradigmatic intracellular pathogens, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae, that have brilliantly adapted to the human host. It was obvious that these pathogens, which cause chronic diseases and persist in macrophages, must have acquired subtle strategies to resist host microbicidal mechanisms, yet since the vast majority of individuals infected with M. tuberculosis do not develop disease, there must be some potent human antimicrobial mechanisms. What follows is not a comprehensive review of the vast literature on the role of human macrophages in protection against infectious disease, but a summary of the research in our two laboratories with collaborators that we hope has contributed to some understanding of mechanisms of resistance and pathogenesis. While mouse models revealed some necessary conditions for protection, e.g., innate immunity, Th1 cells and their cytokines, and major histocompatibility complex class I-restricted T cells, here we emphasize multiple antimicrobial mechanisms that exist in human macrophages that differ from those of most experimental animals. Prominent here is the vitamin D-dependent antimicrobial pathway common to human macrophages activated by innate and acquired immune responses, mediated by antimicrobial peptides, e.g., cathelicidin, through an interleukin-15- and interleukin-32-dependent common pathway that is necessary for macrophage killing of M. tuberculosis in vitro.