It has been increasingly apparent that wasting and cardiovascular disease (CVD) is associated with a persistent systemic inflammatory response in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. The reasons for the increased risk of inflammation in ESRD patients appear to be complex, including non-dialysis as well as dialysis-related factors. The combination of an impaired immune response coupled with persistent immune stimulation may have a role in the low-grade systemic inflammation and altered cytokine balance that characterizes the uremic state and which may translate into increased risk for vascular disease. The accelerated atherosclerotic process of ESRD may involve several interrelated processes, such as oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction, and vascular calcification, in a milieu of constant low-grade inflammation with impaired function of neutrophils and T cells, as well as a dysregulated cytokine network. Although a large number of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are of importance, available data suggest that the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 and the mainly proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) may play important roles in the development of Th imbalance, CVD and wasting in the uremic milieu. Given the strong association between proinflammatory cytokines and complications common in ESRD, such as vascular calcification and wasting, the potential role of both general and targeted anticytokine treatment strategies in ESRD patients needs further evaluation.