The diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.), is a destructive pest that attacks cruciferous crops worldwide. Immune responses are important for interactions between insects and pathogens and information on these underpins the development of strategies for biocontrol-based pest management. Little, however, is known about immune genes and their regulation patterns in P. xylostella. A total of 149 immune-related genes in 20 gene families were identified through comparison of P. xylostella genome with the genomes of other insects. Complete and conserved Toll, IMD and JAK-STAT signaling pathways were found in P. xylostella. Genes involved in pathogen recognition were expanded and more diversified than genes associated with intracellular signal transduction. Gene expression profiles showed that the IMD pathway may regulate expression of antimicrobial peptide (AMP) genes in the midgut, and be related to an observed down-regulation of AMPs in experimental lines of insecticide-resistant P. xylostella. A bacterial feeding study demonstrated that P. xylostella could activate different AMPs in response to bacterial infection. This study has established a framework of comprehensive expression profiles that highlight cues for immune regulation in a major pest. Our work provides a foundation for further studies on the functions of P. xylostella immune genes and mechanisms of innate immunity.