Proteins of the innate immune system can act as natural inhibitors of influenza virus, limiting growth and spread of the virus in the early stages of infection before the induction of adaptive immune responses. In this study, we identify the long pentraxin PTX3 as a potent innate inhibitor of influenza viruses both in vitro and in vivo. Human and murine PTX3 bound to influenza virus and mediated a range of antiviral activities, including inhibition of hemagglutination, neutralization of virus infectivity and inhibition of viral neuraminidase. Antiviral activity was associated with binding of the viral hemagglutinin glycoprotein to sialylated ligands present on PTX3. Using a mouse model we found PTX3 to be rapidly induced following influenza infection and that PTX3-/- mice were more susceptible than wild-type mice to infection by PTX3-sensitive virus strains. Therapeutic treatment of mice with human PTX3 promoted survival and reduced viral load in the lungs following infection with PTX3-sensitive, but not PTX3-resistant, influenza viruses. Together, these studies describe a novel antiviral role for PTX3 in early host defense against influenza infections both in vitro and in vivo and describe the therapeutic potential of PTX3 in ameliorating disease during influenza infection.