Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) is an important cell-signaling component of the immune system. Since its discovery over 20 years ago, much has been learned about its functions under normal and disease conditions. Nonclinical studies suggested a role for TNF in chronic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and psoriasis, and therefore neutralizing monoclonal antibodies specific to human TNF were developed for clinical evaluation. Treatment with anti-TNF monoclonal antibodies (infliximab, adalimumab, and certolizumab pegol) has been shown to provide substantial benefit to patients through reductions in both localized and systemic expression of markers associated with inflammation. In addition, there are beneficial effects of anti-TNF treatment on markers of bone and cartilage turnover. Further exploration of changes in these markers and their correlation with clinical measures of efficacy will be required to allow accurate prediction of those patients most in need of these treatments. Both the clinical and commercial experience with these anti-TNF antibodies provide a wealth of information regarding their pharmacological effects in humans.