Recognition of pathogens is mediated by a set of germline-encoded receptors that are referred to as pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs). These receptors recognize conserved molecular patterns (pathogen-associated molecular patterns), which are shared by large groups of microorganisms. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) function as the PRRs in mammals and play an essential role in the recognition of microbial components. The TLRs may also recognize endogenous ligands induced during the inflammatory response. Similar cytoplasmic domains allow TLRs to use the same signaling molecules used by the interleukin 1 receptors (IL-1Rs): these include MyD88, IL-1R--associated protein kinase and tumor necrosis factor receptor--activated factor 6. However, evidence is accumulating that the signaling pathways associated with each TLR are not identical and may, therefore, result in different biological responses.