Targeted therapies that neutralize tumour necrosis factor are often able to control the signs and symptoms of spondyloarthritis. However, recent animal model data and clinical observations indicate that control of inflammation may not be sufficient to impede disease progression toward ankylosis in these patients. Bone morphogenetic proteins and WNTs (wingless-type like) are likely to play an important role in ankylosis and could be therapeutic targets. The relationship between inflammation and new bone formation is still unclear. This review summarizes progress made in our understanding of ankylosis and offers an alternative view of the relationship between inflammation and ankylosis.