First described as a weak apoptosis inducer, the TNF superfamily ligand TWEAK has since emerged as a cytokine that regulates multiple cellular responses, including proinflammatory activity, angiogenesis and cell proliferation, suggesting roles in inflammation and cancer. More recently TWEAK's ability to regulate progenitor cell fate was elucidated. Experiments using genetic overexpression and pathway inhibition or deficiency in mice indicate that TWEAK coordinates inflammatory and progenitor cell responses in settings of acute injury through its highly inducible receptor, FGF-inducible molecule 14 (Fn14), establishing the pathway's physiological role in facilitating acute tissue repair. In contrast, in chronic inflammatory disease models characterized by persistent TWEAK/Fn14 activation, TWEAK functions as a novel pathogenic mediator by amplifying inflammation, promoting tissue damage and potentially impeding endogenous repair mechanisms. Herein we aim not only to review the multifaceted functions of this emerging pathway, but also propose a conceptual framework for TWEAK/Fn14 pathway function in health and disease, supported by studies employing TWEAK and Fn14 deficient mice and anti-TWEAK blocking mAbs in acute injury and inflammatory disease settings. In addition to a perspective of the biology, we discuss potential therapeutic strategies targeting this pathway for the treatment of tissue injury, chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer.