Interaction of macrophages with apoptotic cells involves multiple steps including recognition, tethering, phagocytosis, and anti-inflammatory macrophage responses. Defective apoptotic cell clearance is associated with pathogenesis of autoimmune disease. CD14 is a surface receptor that functions in vitro in the removal of apoptotic cells by human and murine macrophages, but its mechanism of action has not been defined. Here, we demonstrate that CD14 functions as a macrophage tethering receptor for apoptotic cells.Significantly, CD14-/- macrophages in vivo are defective in clearing apoptotic cells in multiple tissues, suggesting a broad role for CD14 in the clearance process. However, the resultant persistence of apoptotic cells does not lead to inflammation or increased autoantibody production, most likely because, as we show, CD14-/- macrophages retain the ability to generate anti-inflammatory signals in response to apoptotic cells. We conclude that CD14 plays a broad tethering role in apoptotic cell clearance in vivo and that apoptotic cells can persist in the absence of proinflammatory consequences.