The animal models of inflammatory bowel disease provide a framework to define the immunopathogenesis of intestinal inflammation. Studies in these models support the hypothesis that exaggerated immune responses to normal enteric microflora are involved in the initiation and perpetuation of chronic intestinal inflammation. A major pathway involves development of acquired immune responses by the interactions of CD4+ T-cell receptor alphabeta T cells with antigen-presenting cells (dendritic cells). Immunoregulatory cells, including Tr1 cells, Th3 cells, and CD4+ CD25+ T cells and B cells, directly or indirectly affect the T-cell receptor alphabeta T cell-induced immune responses and bridge innate and acquired immunity. The study of these complicated immune networks provides the rationale for the development of new therapeutic interventions in inflammatory bowel disease.