Neutrophils have traditionally been thought of as simple foot soldiers of the innate immune system with a restricted set of pro-inflammatory functions. More recently, it has become apparent that neutrophils are, in fact, complex cells capable of a vast array of specialized functions. Although neutrophils are undoubtedly major effectors of acute inflammation, several lines of evidence indicate that they also contribute to chronic inflammatory conditions and adaptive immune responses. Here, we discuss the key features of the life of a neutrophil, from its release from bone marrow to its death. We discuss the possible existence of different neutrophil subsets and their putative anti-inflammatory roles. We focus on how neutrophils are recruited to infected or injured tissues and describe differences in neutrophil recruitment between different tissues. Finally, we explain the mechanisms that are used by neutrophils to promote protective or pathological immune responses at different sites.