Neutrophils use immunoglobulins to clear antigen, but their role in immunoglobulin production is unknown. Here we identified neutrophils around the marginal zone (MZ) of the spleen, a B cell area specialized in T cell-independent immunoglobulin responses to circulating antigen. Neutrophils colonized peri-MZ areas after postnatal mucosal colonization by microbes and enhanced their B cell-helper function after receiving reprogramming signals, including interleukin 10 (IL-10), from splenic sinusoidal endothelial cells. Splenic neutrophils induced immunoglobulin class switching, somatic hypermutation and antibody production by activating MZ B cells through a mechanism that involved the cytokines BAFF, APRIL and IL-21. Neutropenic patients had fewer and hypomutated MZ B cells and a lower abundance of preimmune immunoglobulins to T cell-independent antigens, which indicates that neutrophils generate an innate layer of antimicrobial immunoglobulin defense by interacting with MZ B cells. © 2012 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.