Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) causes significant mortality and there is no effective vaccine. Previously, we have shown that genetically modified Leishmania donovani parasites, here described as live attenuated parasites, induce a host protective adaptive immune response in various animal models. In this study, we demonstrate an innate immune response upon infection with live attenuated parasites in macrophages from BALB/c mice both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro infection of macrophages with live attenuated parasites (compared to that with wild-type [WT] L. donovani parasites) induced significantly higher production of proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-α], interleukin-12 [IL-12], gamma interferon [IFN-γ], and IL-6), chemokines (monocyte chemoattractant protein 1/CCL-2, macrophage inflammatory protein 1α/CCL-3, and IP-10), reactive oxygen species (ROS), and nitric oxide, while concomitantly reducing anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 and arginase-1 activities, suggesting a dominant classically activated/M1 macrophage response. The classically activated response in turn helps in presenting antigen to T cells, as observed with robust CD4+ T cell activation in vitro. Similarly, parasitized splenic macrophages from live attenuated parasite-infected mice also demonstrated induction of an M1 macrophage phenotype, indicated by upregulation of IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-12, and inducible nitric oxide synthase 2 and downregulation of genes associated with the M2 phenotype, i.e., the IL-10, YM1, Arg-1, and MRC-1 genes, compared to WT L. donovani-infected mice. Furthermore, an ex vivo antigen presentation assay showed macrophages from live attenuated parasite-infected mice induced higher IFN-γ and IL-2 but significantly less IL-10 production by ovalbumin-specific CD4+ T cells, resulting in proliferation of Th1 cells. These data suggest that infection with live attenuated parasites promotes a state of classical activation (M1 dominant) in macrophages that leads to the generation of protective Th1 responses in BALB/c mice.