Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction condition caused by a dysregulated host response to an infection. Here we report that the circulating levels of growth and differentiation factor-15 (GDF15) are strongly increased in septic shock patients and correlate with mortality. In mice, we find that peptidoglycan is a potent ligand that signals through the TLR2-Myd88 axis for the secretion of GDF15, and that Gdf15-deficient mice are protected against abdominal sepsis due to increased chemokine CXC ligand 5 (CXCL5)-mediated recruitment of neutrophils into the peritoneum, leading to better local bacterial control. Our results identify GDF15 as a potential target to improve sepsis treatment. Its inhibition should increase neutrophil recruitment to the site of infection and consequently lead to better pathogen control and clearance.