As a crucial component of Toll-like receptor (TLR)/interleukin-1 receptor (IL-1R) signaling pathways, IL-1R--associated kinase 4 (IRAK-4) plays a central role in innate immunity and embryonic development. Herein, we have characterized the full length cDNA of IRAK4 from Artemia sinica. Molecular characterization revealed that the sequence includes a 2550 bp open reading frame, encoding a predicted protein of 849 amino acids. The predicted protein contains a death domain in the N-terminus and two serine/threonine/tyrosine protein kinasedomains. Bioinformatics analysis showed that it belonged to a new member of the IRAK-4 family. The expression of AsIRAK-4 was researched in various stages during embryonic development by several molecular biology methods including real time PCR, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. The results showed that AsIRAK-4 was constitutively expressed at all developmental stages from embryo to adult, and it was mainly expressed in the head and thorax at the early stages and on the surface of the alimentary canal at later stages. The highest expression level was at the 0 h, 15 h and 5 d stages of A. sinica. While challenged by Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, AsIRAK-4 was remarkably upregulated with the rising concentration of bacteria. Our research revealed that AsIRAK-4 plays a vital role in growth, development and innate immunity of A. sinica.