Solid tumors consist of neoplastic cells, non-malignant stromal cells, and migratory hematopoietic cells. Complex interactions between the cell types in this microenvironment regulate tumor growth, progression, metastasis, and angiogenesis. The cells and mediators of inflammation form a major part of the epithelial tumor microenvironment. In some cancers, inflammatory conditions precede development of malignancy; in others, oncogenic change drives a tumor-promoting inflammatory milieu. Whatever its origin, this "smoldering" inflammation aids proliferation and survival of malignant cells, stimulates angiogenesis and metastasis, subverts adaptive immunity, and alters response to hormones and chemotherapy. Cytokines are major mediators of communication between cells in the inflammatory tumor microenvironment. It is known that neoplastic cells often over-express proinflammatory mediators including proteases, eicosanoids, cytokines, and chemokines. Several cytokines such as macrophage migratory inhibitory factor (MIF), TNF-α, IL-6, IL-17, IL-12, IL-23, IL-10, and TGF-β have been linked with both experimental and human cancers and can either promote or inhibit tumor development. MIF is a major cytokine in many cancers and there is evidence that the cytokine is produced by both malignant cells and infiltrating leukocytes. In this article we will discuss the role of cancer-associated inflammation and the particular role of MIF in malignant disease.