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High-mobility group-1 (HMG-1), an abundant, highly conserved cellular protein, is widely known as a nuclear DNA-binding protein that stabilizes nucleosome formation, facilitates gene transcription, and regulates the activity of steroid hormone receptors. We discovered that HMG-1 is a late mediator of delayed endotoxin lethality. When released by activated monocytes, it participates in the development of lethality and it activates downstream cytokine release. This review covers the general features of HMG-1 and its newly appreciated role as a cytokine.