Abstract Amphioxus is traditionally considered as the living invertebrate most closely related to vertebrate. However, no systematic study was performed about how the amphioxus defends against the microbial invasion. Here we reported a profile of gene transcription after Staphylococcus aureus ( S.c) and Vibrio parahaemolyticus ( V.p) challenged by suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH). When compared with mammals, amphioxus has the same acute immune defense genes (lectins, metalloproteinase, lysozymes and antimicrobial peptide, etc.) as well as a similar pattern and level of temporal gene expression. In contrast, amphioxus was demonstrated to have some novel acute immune response genes in response to the microbial challenge, such as apextrin and dermatopontin, which have a 3500-fold and 900-fold induction after the V.p infection, respectively, suggesting new functions in early immune system for these two genes. Our results reported for the first time a profile of primitive immune system defense against infection in protochordate.