In recent years many efforts have been undertaken to elucidate the complex interactions between mediators of the endocrine system and the immune system. The main effector of growth hormone (GH) is insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), an endocrine mediator of growth and development under physiological conditions. Besides this important function, IGF-1 also plays a prominent role in the regulation of immunity and inflammation. This article will address the involvement of IGF-1 in innate as well as acquired immunity and host-defense. We also discuss the role of IGF-1 in the course of inflammatory disorders, including sepsis and sepsis-induced catabolism as well as degenerative arthritis. Based on recent insights, we finally examine the pathophysiological background, potential pitfalls and perspectives of IGF-1 suppletion therapy in these conditions.