Using high resolution H-band spectra from first-year observations of the SDSS-III APOGEE survey, we have searched for the presence of Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs) towards several thousand stars and obtained ~7 000 robust detections spanning a broad range of Galactic environments. This represents the largest homogeneous sample of DIB systems in terms of both size and sky coverage, which can be used for various statistical studies. For example, we find the strength of the most prominent near-IR DIB (at 1.5723 μm) to be strongly correlated with line-of-sight dust extinction, and its apparent velocity appears to trace that of the Galactic CO emission. The ability to work at near-IR wavelengths allows us to probe lines of sight penetrating through the dusty disk of the Galaxy, spanning a range of about 8 magnitudes of extinction. This preliminary investigation illustrates how a large sample of DIBs can serve as a useful tool to probe the structure of the Galaxy and the chemistry of the interstellar medium.