TLRs are usually thought to recognize substances produced by microorganisms and thus, to initiate host defenses. This concept, however, fails to explain some functions of this family of receptors. Recognition of endogenous substances may explain the broader functions of TLRs in physiology and disease. Activation of TLRs by endogenous substances necessitates vigorous control of the function of the receptors. This communication will summarize a line of research, which points to an endogenous agonist for TLR4 and a putative mechanism for controlling the function of that receptor.