Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein is a chloride channel regulating fluid homeostasis at epithelial surfaces. Its loss of function induces hypohydration, mucus accumulation, and bacterial infections in CF and potentially other lung chronic diseases. To test whether neutrophil elastase (NE) and neutrophil-mediated inflammation negatively impact CFTR structure and function, in vitro and in vivo. Using an adenovirus-CFTR overexpression approach, we showed that NE degrades wild-type (WT)- and ΔF508-CFTR in vitro and WT-CFTR in mice through a new pathway involving the activation of intracellular calpains. CFTR degradation triggered a loss of function, as measured in vitro by channel patch-clamp and in vivo by nasal potential recording in mice. Importantly, this mechanism was also shown to be operative in a Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection murine model, and was NE-dependent, because CFTR integrity was significantly protected in NE(-/-) mice compared with WT mice. These data provide a new mechanism and show for the first time a link between NE-calpains activation and CFTR loss of function in bacterial lung infections relevant to CF and to other chronic inflammatory lung conditions.