Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play an important part in the innate immune recognition of invading microorganisms, initiating sufficient immune responses. Growing amounts of data suggest that the ability of certain individuals to respond properly to TLR ligands may be impaired by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within TLR genes, resulting in an altered susceptibility to, or course of, infectious or inflammatory disease. Most studies have focused on two cosegregating SNPs-Asp299gly and Thr399Ile-within the gene encoding TLR4, the receptor for bacterial lipopolysaccharide. These SNPs are present in approximately 10% of white individuals, and have been found to be positively correlated with several infectious diseases. However, these SNPs seem to protect from atherosclerosis and related diseases, which is reviewed in this article also. Meanwhile, SNPs of genes encoding other TLRs-eg, TLR2, which recognises a wide variety of microbial ligands-have been reported, and preliminary studies indicate an impact on susceptibility to infectious and inflammatory diseases as well. This review summarises and discusses the results obtained, and draws conclusions from these data.