The importance of protein glycosylation in the migration of immune cells throughout the body has been extensively appreciated. However, our awareness of the impact of glycosylation on the regulation of innate and adaptive immune responses is relatively new. An increasing number of studies reveal the relevance of glycosylation to pathogen recognition, to the modulation of the innate immune system and to the control of immune cell homeostasis and inflammation. Similarly important is the effect of glycan-containing 'information' in the development of autoimmune diseases and cancer. In this review, we provide an overview of these new directions and their impact in the field of glycoimmunology.