Mast cells are granule-rich immune cells that are distributed throughout the body in areas where microorganisms typically reside, such as mucosal tissues and the skin, as well as connective tissues. It is well known that mast cells have significant roles in IgE-mediated conditions, such as anaphylaxis, but, because of their location, it is also thought that mast cells act as innate immune cells against pathogens and initiate defensive immune responses. In this review, we discuss recent studies focused on mast cell interactions with flaviviruses and Candida albicans, and mast cell function in the cecal ligation and puncture model of sepsis. We selected these studies because they are clear examples of how mast cells can either promote host resistance to infection, as previously proposed, or contribute to a dysregulated host response that can increase host morbidity and mortality. Importantly, we can distill from these studies that the contribution of mast cells to infection outcomes depends in part on the infection model, including the genetic approach used to assess the influence of mast cells on host immunity, the species in which mast cells are studied, and the differential contribution of mast cell subtypes to immunity. Accordingly, we think that this review highlights the complexity of mast cell biology in the context of innate immune responses.