Previous studies have shown that single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) mixed with protamine forms particles and activates immune cells through Toll-like receptors (TLRs). We have found that the size of protamine-RNA particles generated depends on the electrolyte content when mixing the 2 components. Moreover, we have evidenced that (1) nanometric particles induce production of interferon-alpha, whereas (2) micrometric particles mainly induce production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in human immune cells. We found that the mechanisms underlying these observations are (1) nanoparticles but not microparticles are selectively phagocytosed by plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), which produce interferon-alpha and (2) monocytes that produce TNF-alpha have a higher activation threshold than that of pDCs. Thus, at the same time as sensing pathogen-associated molecular patterns such as ssRNA, the immune system distinguishes the size of the associated structure in such a way as to trigger the adapted antivirus (nanometric) or antibacterial/antifungal (micrometric) immune response. Our results introduce a new dimension in danger signaling--how size qualitatively affects innate response.