Recent advances in the drug treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have paralleled our understanding of the pathophysiology of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Several proinflammatory and immune-regulatory cytokines are upregulated in the mucosa of patients with IBD, and differences and similarities in the cytokine profiles of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease have been elucidated. Several clinical trials involving a chimeric anti-TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor-alpha) antibody have shown marked clinical benefit in the majority of patients with Crohn's disease, verifying the importance of TNF-alpha in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease. In preliminary studies, treatment with recombinant human interleukin-10 has been beneficial in Crohn's disease but not in ulcerative colitis. Future treatment of IBD may include combination or sequential cytokine and anticytokine administration in defined groups of patients based on their mucosal cytokine profiles.