Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) presents as a severe neurological brain disease and is a genetic mimic of the sequelae of transplacentally acquired viral infection. Evidence exists for a perturbation of innate immunity as a primary pathogenic event in the disease phenotype. Here, we show that TREX1, encoding the major mammalian 3' --> 5' DNA exonuclease, is the AGS1 gene, and AGS-causing mutations result in abrogation of TREX1 enzyme activity. Similar loss of function in the Trex1(-/-) mouse leads to an inflammatory phenotype. Our findings suggest an unanticipated role for TREX1 in processing or clearing anomalous DNA structures, failure of which results in the triggering of an abnormal innate immune response.