Malaria, caused by infection with Plasmodium spp., is a life cycle-specific disease that includes liver injury at the erythrocyte stage of the parasite. In this study, we have investigated the mechanisms underlying Plasmodium berghei-induced liver injury, which is characterized by the presence of apoptotic and necrotic hepatocytes and dense infiltration of lymphocytes. Although both IL-12 and IL-18 serum levels were elevated after infection, IL-12-deficient, but not IL-18-deficient, mice were resistant to liver injury induced by P. berghei. Neither elevation of serum IL-12 levels nor liver injury was observed in mice deficient in myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88), an adaptor molecule shared by Toll-like receptors (TLRs). These results demonstrated a requirement of the TLR-MyD88 pathway for induction of IL-12 production during P. berghei infection. Hepatic lymphocytes from P. berghei-infected wild-type mice lysed hepatocytes from both uninfected and infected mice. The hepatocytotoxic action of these cells was blocked by a perforin inhibitor but not by a neutralizing anti-Fas ligand Ab and was up-regulated by IL-12. Surprisingly, these cells killed hepatocytes in an MHC-unrestricted manner. However, CD1d-deficient mice that lack CD1d-restricted NK T cells, were susceptible to liver injury induced by P. berghei. Collectively, our results indicate that the liver injury induced by P. berghei infection of mice induces activation of the TLR-MyD88 signaling pathway which results in IL-12 production and activation of the perforin-dependent cytotoxic activities of MHC-unrestricted hepatic lymphocytes.