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The host response to injury or infection is a complex interplay of endocrine, metabolic, and immunological alterations designed to promote wound healing and restore the system to a state of homeostasis. Cytokines are the primary mediators of the inflammatory response to injury. This article serves as an introduction to this important class of inflammatory mediators. The major pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines as well as the chemokines are discussed. Results from laboratory and clinical attempts at manipulation of these mediators are discussed and recommendations for future research in anticytokine therapy are made.