The concept that the immune system recognizes and controls cancer was first postulated over a century ago, and cancer immunity has continued to be vigorously debated and experimentally tested. Mounting evidence in humans and mice supports the involvement of cytokines in tumor initiation, growth, and metastasis. The idea that the immune system detects stressed, transformed, and frankly malignant cells underpins much of the excitement currently surrounding new cytokine therapies in cancer treatment. In this review, we define the contrasting roles that cytokines play in promoting tumor immunity, inflammation, and carcinogenesis. We also discuss the more promising aspects of clinical cytokine use in cancer patients.