C-type lectins (CTLs) are involved in the innate immune defense of vertebrates and invertebrates against invading pathogens. This study cloned and characterized a novel C-type lectin (MnCTL) of the oriental river prawn, Macrobrachium nipponense. The cloned MnCTL cDNA encompasses an open reading frame of 774 nucleotides and encodes polypeptides of 257 residues. The deduced MnCTL protein contains a single carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD) with an EPN (Glu-Pro-Asn) motif in calcium-binding site 2. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that MnCTL has a closer evolutionary relationship with vertebrate lectins than with invertebrate lectins. Tissue expression analysis showed that high levels of MnCTL are ubiquitously distributed in the gills and stomach of M. nipponense. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis showed that MnCTL expression was up-regulated by bacteria or white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) challenge. Knock-down of the MnCTL gene in WSSV-challenged prawns significantly decreased MnALF1 and MnALF2 transcript levels. The recombinant MnCRD (rMnCRD) agglutinated both Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) and Gram-negative bacteria (Vibrio parahaemolyticus) in the presence of calcium. Furthermore, rMnCRD could bind to all the tested bacteria with different activities. The sugar-binding assay showed that rMnCRD was able to bind lipopolysaccharide and peptidoglycan in a concentration-dependent manner. In addition, rMnCRD could accelerate bacterial clearance. On the contrary, MnCTL silencing by dsRNA interference could weaken the bacterial clearance ability. All these findings implicated MnCTL were involved in the antiviral and antibacterial innate immunity of M. nipponense.