Neospora caninum is a coccidian intracellular protozoan capable of infecting a wide range of mammals, although severe disease is mostly reported in dogs and cattle. Innate defences triggered by monocytes/macrophages are key in the pathogenesis of neosporosis, as these cells are first-line defenders against intracellular infections. The aim of this study was to characterize infection and innate responses in macrophages infected with N. caninum using a well-known cell model to study macrophage functions (human monocyte THP-1 cells). Intracellular invasion of live tachyzoites occurred as fast as 4 h (confirmed with immunofluorescence microscopy using N. caninum-specific antibodies). Macrophages infected by N. caninum had increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNFα, IL-1β, IL-8, IFNγ). Interestingly, N. caninum induced expression of host-defence peptides (cathelicidins), a mechanism of defence never reported for N. caninum infection in macrophages. The expression of cytokines and cathelicidins in macrophages invaded by N. caninum was mediated by mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK 1/2). Secretion of such innate factors from N. caninum-infected macrophages reduced parasite internalization and promoted the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines in naïve macrophages. We concluded that rapid invasion of macrophages by N. caninum triggered protective innate defence mechanisms against intracellular pathogens.