The normal aqueous humor contains a variety of soluble immunosuppressive factors, including transforming growth factor-beta, alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone, and vasoactive intestinal peptide. These factors are largely the secretory products of parenchymal cells of the iris and ciliary body. TGF beta has recently been shown to alter the functional capacity of intraocular antigen presenting cells, such that they are capable of inducing Anterior Chamber Associated Immune Deviation (ACAID). This deviant systemic immune response is characterized by an impaired capacity to mount an effective cell-mediated immune attack directed at antigens that are placed in, or arise within, the eye. A second property of immunosuppressive factors in aqueous humor is to suppress directly the expression of delayed hypersensitivity in the anterior chamber. In fact, even when the intraocular microenvironment is disturbed by local instillation of gamma-interferon, making it possible for limited expression of cell-mediated immunity in the eye, the microenvironment of the anterior chamber remains profoundly immunosuppressive. In this latter instance, prostaglandins replace TGF beta as the major molecular mediators of suppression in the aqueous humor. In the aggregate, factors present in the normal (or perturbed) intraocular microenvironment have the capacity to modify both the afferent and efferent limbs of the systemic immune response, and this accounts for the longstanding observation that the anterior chamber is an immunologically privileged site. Since evidence suggests that the eye can mobilize more than one molecular mechanism in its effort to limit the sight-destroying potential of immunogenic inflammation, we believe that elucidation of intraocular cytokines and factors that create and maintain an immunosuppressive microenvironment will contribute to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the acute and chronic uveitides, especially those of autoimmune and infectious etiology.