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The immune system protects from infections primarily by detecting and eliminating the invading pathogens; however, the host organism can also protect itself from infectious diseases by reducing the negative impact of infections on host fitness. This ability to tolerate a pathogen’s presence is a distinct host defense strategy, which has been largely overlooked in animal and human studies. Introduction of the notion of “disease tolerance” into the conceptual tool kit of immunology will expand our understanding of infectious diseases and host pathogen interactions. Analysis of disease tolerance mechanisms should provide new approaches for the treatment of infections and other diseases.