The vascular inflammatory response involves complex interaction between inflammatory cells (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages), endothelial cells (ECs), vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), and extracellular matrix (ECM). Vascular injury is associated with increased expression of adhesion molecules by ECs and recruitment of inflammatory cells, growth factors, and cytokines, with consequent effects on ECs, VSMCs and ECM. Cytokines include tumor necrosis factors, interleukins, lymphokines, monokines, interferons, colony stimulating factors, and transforming growth factors. Cytokines are produced by macrophages, T-cells and monocytes, as well as platelets, ECs and VSMCs. Circulating cytokines interact with specific receptors on various cell types and activate JAK-STAT, NF-kappaB, and Smad signaling pathways leading to an inflammatory response involving cell adhesion, permeability and apoptosis. Cytokines also interact with mitochondria to increase the production of reactive oxygen species. Cytokine-induced activation of these pathways in ECs modifies the production/activity of vasodilatory mediators such as nitric oxide, prostacyclin, endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor, and bradykinin, as well as vasoconstrictive mediators such as endothelin and angiotensin II. Cytokines interact with VSMCs to activate Ca(2+), protein kinase C, Rho-kinase, and MAPK pathways, which promote cell growth and migration, and VSM reactivity. Cytokines also interact with integrins and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and modify ECM composition. Persistent increases in cytokines are associated with vascular dysfunction and vascular disease such as atherosclerosis, abdominal aortic aneurysm, varicose veins and hypertension. Genetic and pharmacological tools to decrease the production of cytokines or to diminish their effects using cytokine antagonists could provide new approaches in the management of inflammatory vascular disease.