Defense collagens and other soluble pattern recognition receptors contain the ability to recognize and bind molecular patterns associated with pathogens (PAMPs) or apoptotic cells (ACAMPs) and signal appropriate effector-function responses. PAMP recognition by defense collagens C1q, MBL and ficolins leads to rapid containment of infection via complement activation. However, in the absence of danger, such as during the clearance of apoptotic cells, defense collagens such as C1q, MBL, ficolins, SP-A, SP-D and even adiponectin have all been shown to facilitate enhanced phagocytosis and modulate induction of cytokines towards an anti-inflammatory profile. In this way, cellular debris can be removed without provoking an inflammatory immune response which may be important in the prevention of autoimmunity and/or resolving inflammation. Indeed, deficiencies and/or knock-out mouse studies have highlighted critical roles for soluble pattern recognition receptors in the clearance of apoptotic bodies and protection from autoimmune diseases along with mediating protection from specific infections. Understanding the mechanisms involved in defense collagen and other soluble pattern recognition receptor modulation of the immune response may provide important novel insights into therapeutic targets for infectious and/or autoimmune diseases and additionally may identify avenues for more effective vaccine design.