Phagocytosis of invading microorganisms by professional phagocytic cells has a central role in innate immunity. However, several microorganisms developed strategies to subvert this process. Previously, we reported that bacteria and protozoa modulate differently the expression of Rab GTPases. Moreover, our results suggested that this modulation can contribute to avoid phagocytosis. Here, we investigated the mechanism by which the malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei and the bacterium Escherichia coli subvert phagocytosis through the modulation of Rab14 or Rab9a expression, respectively. We first confirmed that the scavenger receptor CD36 and the Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 are required for the phagocytosis of P. berghei and E. coli, respectively. Interestingly, we observed that Rab14 silencing leads to an increase in the surface expression of CD36 in macrophages, which can explain the increase in the phagocytosis of P. berghei we reported previously. Similar results were obtained for Rab9a and TLR4, i.e. Rab9a silencing causes an upregulation of TLR4 surface expression in macrophages. Furthermore, we found that the decrease in the internalization of CD36 and TLR4, upon Rab14 or Rab9a silencing, respectively, can explain the increase in the surface levels of these receptors. Thus, our studies provide evidence that the modulation of phagocytosis caused by changes in Rab expression is operated, at least partly through changes in the surface levels of phagocytic receptors. © 2018, The Author(s).