Protein-glycan interactions control essential immunological processes, including T-cell activation, differentiation and survival. Galectins, carbohydrate-binding proteins, defined by shared consensus amino acid sequences and affinity for beta-galactose-containing oligosaccharides, participate in a wide spectrum of immunological processes. These carbohydrate-binding proteins regulate the development of pathogenic T-cell responses by influencing T-cell survival, activation and cytokine secretion. Administration of recombinant galectins or their genetic delivery modulate the development and severity of chronic inflammatory responses in experimental models of autoimmunity by triggering different and potentially overlapping immunoregulatory mechanisms. Given the potential use of galectins as novel anti-inflammatory agents or targets for immunosuppressive drugs, we will summarize here recent findings on the influence of these carbohydrate-binding proteins in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disorders.