The immune system, composed of innate and acquired immunity, allows an organism to fight off foreign pathogens. Healthy immunity accomplishes four essential principles: (1) ability to detect and fight off infection; (2) ability to recognize a host's own cells as "self," thereby protecting them from attack; (3) a memory from previous foreign infections; and (4) ability to limit the response after the pathogen has been removed. In an unaltered state, the intricate network of immunologic organs and cells creates an environment for proper host defense. Without adequate execution of immunologic mechanisms, a host is rendered defenseless against pathogens. Conversely, an unchecked immune response can be self-destructive. As a result of either of these untoward sequelae, immune dysfunction can elicit disease states in the host. The goal of this review is to elucidate the characteristics of a healthy immune system, focusing on the principles of immunity and the cells that participate in host protection. We also briefly discuss the clinical ramifications of immune dysfunction.