Sepsis remains a prevalent clinical challenge and the underlying pathophysiology is still poorly understood. To investigate the complex molecular mechanisms of sepsis, various animal models have been developed, the most frequently used being the cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) model in rodents. In this model, sepsis originates from a polymicrobial infectious focus within the abdominal cavity, followed by bacterial translocation into the blood compartment, which then triggers a systemic inflammatory response. A requirement of this model is that it is performed with high consistency to obtain reproducible results. Evidence is now emerging that the accompanying inflammatory response varies with the severity grade of sepsis, which is highly dependent on the extent of cecal ligation. In this protocol, we define standardized procedures for inducing sepsis in mice and rats by applying defined severity grades of sepsis through modulation of the position of cecal ligation. The CLP procedure can be performed in as little as 10 min for each animal by an experienced user, with additional time required for subsequent postoperative care and data collection.