The adenylate cyclase toxin-hemolysin (CyaA, ACT or AC-Hly) plays a key role in virulence ofBordetella pertussis. CyaA penetrates myeloid cells expressing the complement receptor 3 (αMβ2 integrin CD11b/CD18) and subverts bactericidal capacities of neutrophils and macrophages by catalysing unregulated conversion of cytosolic ATP to the key signalling molecule adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP). We show that the signalling of CyaA-produced cAMP hijacks, by an as yet unknown mechanism, the activity of the tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1 and activates the pro-apoptotic BimEL-Bax cascade. Mitochondrial hyperpolarization occurred in human THP-1 macrophages within 10 min of exposure to low CyaA concentrations (e.g. 20 ng ml−1) and was accompanied by accumulation of BimEL and association of the pro-apoptotic factor Bax with mitochondria. BimEL accumulation required cAMP/protein kinase A signalling, depended on SHP-1 activity and was selectively inhibited upon small interfering RNA knockdown of SHP-1 but not of the SHP-2 phosphatase. Moreover, signalling of CyaA-produced cAMP inhibited the AKT/protein kinase B pro-survival cascade, enhancing activity of the FoxO3a transcription factor and inducingBimtranscription. Synergy of FoxO3a activation with SHP-1 hijacking thus enables the toxin to rapidly trigger a persistent accumulation of BimEL, thereby activating the pro-apoptotic programme of macrophages and subverting the innate immunity of the host.