Escalating product recalls as a consequence of Salmonella-contaminated poultry products have resulted in detrimental economic impacts in the poultry industry. One potential long-term alternative method to Salmonella prevention is genetic selection to improve innate resistance. This study evaluated the ex vivo effects of Salmonella Heidelberg (SH) on phagocytic and bactericidal leukocyte function in turkeys from six pedigree lines (A–F). Day-of-hatch poults (n = 48) were placed and raised in cages (2 birds/gender/genetic line/cage) to 35 d when heterophils and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were extracted from males and females of each line. Cells were used in phagocytic and bactericidal assays to determine the ex vivo effects of SH on turkey leukocyte activity. Data were analyzed using the Fit Model platform in JMP Pro 10.0 (SAS Institute Inc.) with differences considered significant at P ≤ 0.05 and data reported as LS Means with SEM. Although genetic line had no significant effect on phagocytosis of SH by heterophils and PBMCs, cumulatively, female cells exhibited higher phagocytosis potential than those from males. The main effect of gender was significant on bactericidal activity of PBMCs when incubated at a 1:10 and 1:100 PBMC to SH ratio. Genetic line also had a significant effect on bactericidal activity of PBMCs with cells from line F exhibiting the best activity. These results suggest that gender had a marked cumulative effect on phagocytosis of SH by heterophils and PBMCs while both genetic line and gender had a prominent effect on bacterial killing of SH by turkey PBMCs. Once able to determine genetic markers associated with these immune responses to Salmonella, genetic selection for increased resistance may become feasible in turkeys.