Pigs possess a microbiota in the upper respiratory tract that includes Haemophilus parasuis. Pigs are also considered the reservoir of influenza viruses and infection with this virus commonly results in increased impact of bacterial infections, including those by H. parasuis. However, the mechanisms involved in host innate responses towards H. parasuis and their implications in a co-infection with influenza virus are unknown. Therefore, the ability of a non-virulent H. parasuis serovar 3 (SW114) and a virulent serovar 5 (Nagasaki) strains to interact with porcine bone marrow dendritic cells (poBMDC) and their modulation in a co-infection with swine influenza virus (SwIV) H3N2 was examined. At 1 hour post infection (hpi), SW114 interaction with poBMDC was higher than that of Nagasaki, while at 8 hpi both strains showed similar levels of interaction. The co-infection with H3N2 SwIV and either SW114 or Nagasaki induced higher levels of IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-12 and IL-10 compared to mock or H3N2 SwIV infection alone. Moreover, IL-12 and IFN-α secretion differentially increased in cells co-infected with H3N2 SwIV and Nagasaki. These results pave the way for understanding the differences in the interaction of non-virulent and virulent strains of H. parasuis with the swine immune system and their modulation in a viral co-infection. © 2012 Mussá et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.