The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system is one of the most crucial host factors influencing disease progression in bacterial and viral infections. This review provides the basic concepts of the structure and function of HLA molecules in humans. Here, we highlight the main findings on the associations between HLA class I and class II alleles and susceptibility to important infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, leprosy, melioidosis, Staphylococcus aureus infection, human immunodeficiency virus infection, coronavirus disease 2019, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C in populations worldwide. Finally, we discuss challenges in HLA typing to predict disease outcomes in clinical implementation. Evaluation of the impact of HLA variants on the outcome of bacterial and viral infections would improve the understanding of pathogenesis and identify those at risk from infectious diseases in distinct populations and may improve the individual treatment.