Evidence now supports a pivotal role for cellular inflammatory events at all stages of acne lesion development, from preclinical initiation to clinical presentation of active lesions through to resolution. The emphasis has moved from acne as a primarily hyperproliferative disorder of the sebaceous follicle to that of an inflammatory skin disorder. However, although the sequence of events leading to lesion formation has become clearer, the triggers for initiation remain speculative. The development of noninvasive techniques to detect preclinical "acne-prone" follicles is essential before triggers for initiation can be defined. Finally, the differences highlighted in the inflammatory profiles of inflamed lesions from patients who scar, as compared with other nonscarring acne patients reinforces the view that acne is a disorder, which embraces a number of pathologies.