Our murine models of human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME) have shown that severe and fatal ehrlichiosis is due to generation of pathogenic T cell responses causing immunopathology and multi-organ failure. However, the early events in the liver, the main site of infection, are not well understood. In this study, we examined the liver transcriptome during the course of lethal and nonlethal infections caused by Ixodes ovatus Ehrlichia and Ehrlichia muris, respectively. On day 3 post-infection (p.i.), although most host genes were down regulated in the two groups of infected mice compared to naïve counterparts, lethal infection induced significantly higher expression of caspase 1, caspase 4, nucleotide binding oligomerization domain-containing proteins (Nod1), tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin 10, and CCL7 compared to nonlethal infection. On day 7 p.i., lethal infection induced highly significant upregulation of type-1 interferon, several inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, which was associated with increased expression levels of Toll-like receptor-2 (TLR2), Nod2, MyD88, nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB), Caspase 4, NLRP1, NLRP12, Pycard, and IL-1β, suggesting enhanced TLR signals and inflammasomes activation. We next evaluated the participation of TLR2 and Nod2 in the host response during lethal Ehrlichia infection. Although lack of TLR2 impaired bacterial elimination and increased tissue necrosis, Nod2 deficiency attenuated pathology and enhanced bacterial clearance, which correlated with increased interferon-γ and interleukin-10 levels and a decreased frequency of pathogenic CD8+ T cells in response to lethal infection. Thus, these data indicate that Nod2, but not TLR2, contributes to susceptibility to severe Ehrlichia-induced shock. Together, our studies provide, for the first time, insight into the diversity of host factors and novel molecular pathogenic mechanisms that may contribute to severe HME.