Respiratory infection of influenza A virus (IAV) is frequently characterized by extensive immunopathology and proinflammatory signaling that can persist after virus clearance. In this report, we identify cells that become infected, but survive, acute influenza virus infection. We demonstrate that these cells, known as club cells, elicit a robust transcriptional response to virus infection, show increased interferon stimulation, and induce high levels of proinflammatory cytokines after successful viral clearance. Specific depletion of these surviving cells leads to a reduction in lung tissue damage associated with IAV infection. We propose a model in which infected, surviving club cells establish a proinflammatory environment aimed at controlling virus levels, but at the same time contribute to lung pathology.