A coherent view of the role of cytokines in inflammatory eye disease is emerging as a result of studies both in man and experimental animals. Cytokines have been demonstrated in ocular tissue obtained from patients with intraocular inflammation (uveitis) (gamma interferon, IL-2) and have been shown to induce inflammation in experimental animals after intraocular injection [(IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, tumour necrosis factor (TNF), granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF)]. Several unique features of the immunology of the eye such as the immunosuppression associated with anterior chamber associated immune deviation (ACAID) may be due to the effects of cytokines. Similarly, common complications of ocular inflammation such as glaucoma, keratic precipitates, retinal (macular) oedema and neovascularization may be mediated by cytokines. Understanding of the role of cytokines in inflammatory eye disease has the potential to lead to the development of therapies to abrogate the effects of these important mediators of the inflammatory response.