The IL-10 family of cytokines consists of nine members: IL-10, IL-19, IL-20, IL-22, IL-24, IL-26, and the more distantly related IL-28A, IL-28B, and IL-29. Evolutionarily, IL-10 family cytokines emerged before the adaptive immune response. These cytokines elicit diverse host defense mechanisms, especially from epithelial cells, during various infections. IL-10 family cytokines are essential for maintaining the integrity and homeostasis of tissue epithelial layers. Members of this family can promote innate immune responses from tissue epithelia to limit the damage caused by viral and bacterial infections. These cytokines can also facilitate the tissue-healing process in injuries caused by infection or inflammation. Finally, IL-10 itself can repress proinflammatory responses and limit unnecessary tissue disruptions caused by inflammation. Thus, IL-10 family cytokines have indispensable functions in many infectious and inflammatory diseases.